Off the Page

A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between

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Book Cover Falling for Myself

A Grateful, Pay-it-Forward Diverse Booklist

By Dorothy Ellen Palmer

Marking International Day of Disabled Persons (December 3) with a recommended reading list by one of CanLit's foremost d …

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Sydney Smith

The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Sydney Smith

By Trevor Corkum

Sydney Smith is this year’s Governor General’s Award winner for Young People’s Literature (Illustrated Book) for S …

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Book Cover Woman on the Edge

12 Books I Can't Get Out of My Mind

By Samantha Bailey

A list of fabulous fiction (and sneak preview of 2020's hottest books), by Samantha M. Bailey, whose debut novel, Woman …

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Book Cover the work

In for the Duration: Books About the Long Haul

By Maria Meindl

"What if I saw The Work as a historical novel? Maybe it’s not set far enough in the past to count as historical, but m …

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Five New Picture Books to Brighten Up Your Classroom

Five New Picture Books to Brighten Up Your Classroom

By Sarah Campbell

Twice a month, we invite an educator to share their perspective on essential books for your classroom. To apply to becom …

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Book Cover the Liszts

Notes from a Children’s Librarian: Self-Regulation, Organization, Initiative

By Julie Booker

The learning skills part of the report card is divided into areas such as Self-Regulation, Organization, Initiative—ha …

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The Chat with Governor General's Literary Award Winner Erin Bow

The Chat with Governor General's Literary Award Winner Erin Bow

By Trevor Corkum

Erin Bow has won this year’s Governor General’s Award for Young People’s Literature (Text) for Stand on the Sky (S …

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The Chat with Governor General's Literary Award Winner Amanda Parris

The Chat with Governor General's Literary Award Winner Amanda Parris

By Trevor Corkum

Renowned CBC radio host Amanda Parris is this year’s Governor General’s Award winner for Drama for Other Side of the …

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The Chat with Governor General's Literary Award Winner Joan Thomas

The Chat with Governor General's Literary Award Winner Joan Thomas

By Trevor Corkum

Joan Thomas has won this year’s Governor General’s Award for Fiction for her novel Five Wives, an exploration of the …

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Book Cover Radiant Voices

Radiant Voices

By carla bergman

Storytelling that is about displacement and finding belonging, and of course, some Radiant Voices.

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A Grateful, Pay-it-Forward Diverse Booklist

December 3 is International Day of Disabled Persons, and we're proud to be marking this day with a recommended reading list by one of CanLit's foremost disability activists, Dorothy Ellen Palmer, whose latest book is the memoir Falling For Myself. An underlying message of this powerful, fierce, and often funny book is the importance of solidarity, allyship, and community, which Palmer celebrates properly here in the collection of authors and books that she's assembled.

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One of the things that continually feeds me as a reader is the work of other authors I respect, those who continue to share, collaborate, and produce fabulous, thought-provoking diverse books, often will little thanks. With this list I want to thank and boost the books I loved recently published by those authors who kindly took time from their working days to write a blurb for my memoir, Falling for Myself. They reflect the best of the craft and community of CanLit.

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All Inclusive, by Farzana Doctor

About the book: A story about one all-inclusive resort, the ghost of an unknown father, …

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winner Sydney Smith

Sydney Smith

Sydney Smith is this year’s Governor General’s Award winner for Young People’s Literature (Illustrated Book) for Small in the City, published by Groundwood Books.

The jury says "Small in the City is visually stunning. The feeling of winter in the city from a child’s perspective is rendered with remarkable feeling and sensitivity. But the genius of the book turns on the collaboration of the pictures and the text—the voice, the pacing and the gentle but striking exposition live up to the brilliance of the illustrations. A tour de force.”

Sydney Smith is an author/illustrator of children’s books. He has illustrated numerous acclaimed children’s books, including Town Is by the Sea, written by Joanne Schwartz, and the wordless picture book Sidewalk Flowers, conceived by JonArno Lawson, which won the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award and many other honours. Smith has received the New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award three times. He studied drawing and printmaking at NSCAD University. He lives and works in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with his wife and two children.

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THE CHAT WITH SYDNEY SMITH

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12 Books I Can't Get Out of My Mind

I can’t fall asleep unless I’ve torn through the pages of an excellent novel first, and I probably read three or four books a week. I devour commercial fiction in all different genres, and it’s not easy to narrow down my favourites. But the following twelve books, in no particular order, are the reads that I just can’t get out of my mind because they’re that spectacular.

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The Arrangement, by Robyn Harding

I’ve inhaled all of Robyn Harding’s books, but The Arrangement really hooked me right from the first line. Take Natalie, a desperate art student; a sugar baby website; Gabe, a rich, older man; add in a murder, and you’ve got the most tantalizing story-line. It's a fantastic, emotional, twisted, perfectly paced read, set against a vivid New York City backdrop, and is so seductive I couldn’t put it down.

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Hurry Home, by Roz Nay

R …

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In for the Duration: Books About the Long Haul

I worked on The Work for … long enough to forget how long. And I know I’m not alone. Almost every writer I talk to has a long-simmering novel somewhere that they can’t seem to complete, but can’t give up, either. Maybe it’s loyalty, maybe it’s stubbornness; maybe we just don’t know how to stop. It’s not unlike the thwarted love-affair in my novel. The trouble is that as the years go by, the original concept no longer seems so inspiring, or so relevant. At a time like that, it helps to see the project through a new lens.

I remember when that shift happened for me with The Work. I was lying in bed reading Eva Stachniak’s The Chosen Maiden. My eyes were closing, but I just could not put it down. I turned the page, eager to know what would happen to the young Bronia Nijinska at the Imperial Ballet School, but first I came one of the interludes interspersed through the book. They take place in 1939 and show Bronia on a ship bound for the United States at the start of the Second World War, a perilous voyage toward an uncertain future. I was on the ship with Bronia, feeling the cold sea air, along with the grief she cannot leave behind. In these interludes Stachniak says, Sure, an exciting story is unfolding, but I’m going to show you something more: du …

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Five New Picture Books to Brighten Up Your Classroom

Twice a month, we invite an educator to share their perspective on essential books for your classroom. To apply to become a contributor, please send us an email!

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Just like the leaves (or snow!), new books are piling up everywhere. But there is never enough talk about the new picture books that will brighten up our classrooms! So much is offered for primary students these days and these new books don’t disappoint. They cover many diverse topics from what it’s like to be small, the importance of play and being silly, the importance of self-expression, being a good neighbour, and loving everyone. Not only do these stories speak to children’s interests but they respect our youngest readers and speak to them as intelligent, kind, and important members of our community. So just like my kids who don’t help me rake the leaves in our yard—let’s jump right into the piles of these new books and classroom discussions!

In Small in the City, author and illustrator Sydney Smith walks us through the blustery streets of a city we love from the perspective of someone small. The minimal text and gorgeous drawings illustrate how a little person can feel unseen in the bustle of city streets, the noise and chaos. I love that this story takes place in winter, when snow can s …

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