Off the Page

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

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Book Cover Butterfly Park

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Text to Text

By Julie Booker

Great kids books in conversation with each other. 

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Book Cover A Girl Like That

Seeds of a Story 2019: Part 1

By Kerry Clare

Discover what books were inspired by an East German museum, the song "What a Fool Believes," two vibrant communities on …

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Book Cover Honey

Why Can't I Let You Go?

By Brenda Brooks

The author of Honey, a dark story of obsession, suggests books she just can't quit. 

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7 Books to Promote Leadership Skills in Your Students

7 Books to Promote Leadership Skills in Your Students

By Allison Hall

A wise principal once told me that whoever is doing the work, is doing the learning. Wouldn’t it be beneficial for stu …

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Book Cover Tawaw

Food Writing: From My Bookshelves and Browser

By Jennifer Cockrall-King

A jumping-off list for a larger discussion of authors and thinkers who inspire us to think more deeply about the food we …

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The Recommend for Fall 2019: RomComs, Mysteries, Shoe Sellers, and Icons of CanLit

The Recommend for Fall 2019: RomComs, Mysteries, Shoe Sellers, and Icons of CanLit

By Kiley Turner

This week we're pleased to present the picks of writers Ian Colford (A Dark House and Other Stories), Ariela Freedman (A …

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Book Cover Set-Point

The Edges of Identity

By Fawn Parker

8 books dealing with issues of identity, sexuality, and mental health. 

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Shelf Talkers: Indie Booksellers' Fall 2019 Picks

Shelf Talkers: Indie Booksellers' Fall 2019 Picks

By Rob Wiersema

Some of Canada’s favourite booksellers’ favourite books of the year.

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Citrus Salad from Antoni in the Kitchen

Southern-Italian/Cold-NYC Winter Salad

By Antoni Porowski

"In the winter, when I long for fresh produce, I serve this citrus and fennel salad, which reminds me of Italy." 

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Book Cover Mobile

Walk on Over: 8 Books about Walking and Place

By Tanis MacDonald

A recommended reading list by celebrated writer Tanis MacDonald, whose latest book is Mobile.

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Text to Text

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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Bird Child, by Nan Forler, illustrated by Francois Thisdale, is a poignant story of a girl who witnesses bullying. Eliza is like a bird—tiny and able to “fly.” From her vantage point, she can clearly see all that goes on around her. She can also look up and see possibility. When she witnesses the new girl, Lainey, being teased because of her straw hair and frayed coat, Eliza does nothing. She watches Lainey’s excitement about school waning with each passing day and still she does nothing. One day Lainey doesn’t show up for school and Eliza realizes what she needs to do—show her classmate how she too can fly.  

Lucy M. Falcone’s I Didn’t Stand Up, illustrated by Jacqueline Hudon, addresses a similar topic. A boy regrets not standing up to all different types of bullying (including against gay and trans classmates) and finally finds strength in numbers. 

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Seeds of a Story 2019: Part 1

This week, the CCBC Book Awards, celebrating the best of children's literature in Canada, will be presented in Toronto. We asked the nominees to tell us about the seeds of their stories, the places from which their inspiration grew. Here are some of their responses. Part Two appears later this week.

Read on to discover what books were inspired by an East German museum, the song "What a Fool Believes," two vibrant communities on opposite coasts, and one writer's son's important question. 

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Aftermath, by Kelley Armstrong

Nominated for the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award and the John Spray Mystery Award

The “aftermath” in the title is the aftermath of a school shooting and how it affected both the sister of a shooter and the brother of a victim. The story seed came from an article about the online and real-life harassment a sibling’s shooter endured. I knew parents of shooters received intense scrutiny and negative attention—I’d recently listened to an interview with one parent—but the sibling relationship was an angle I hadn’t considered. I was extremely wary of using an actual shooting in a thriller, but dealing only with the aftermath seemed like a good way to tackle a sensitive subject, and my editors agreed. 

It takes over two years for my books to go fr …

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Why Can't I Let You Go?

Honey, the new novel by Brenda Brooks (whose Gotta Find Me an Angel was a finalist for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award) is a dark story about obsession. In this amazing reading list, Brooks recommends a wide-ranging list of books she just can't quit. 

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“Time to pull up stakes and move to smaller, more expensive digs? That means sweating the book test, whittling the library down to its absolute essentials. Who of your too many darlings isn’t going with you? You’ll be ruthless. No excuses. You’ll drop them off at the used bookstore and sell them away for 3 cents per pound, or kilo, or whatever. And so it begins: you choose a darling, read a few sentences—put it back. Pick another, read a few sentences—put it back. Why, here are a few darlings that belong to somebody else! You keep them too.”

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Book Cover By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and WEpt

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, by Elizabeth Smart

Oh, what Elizabeth Smart accomplished in 128 pages. In her remarkable foreword to the book Brigid Brophy calls the novel “a rhapsody and a lament,” its images strung together with such …

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7 Books to Promote Leadership Skills in Your Students

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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I spent some time over the summer thinking about how to improve the organization of various clubs and initiatives that take place in the library. The school year always starts with much excitement and great intentions, but midway through November I find that I’m already run off my feet. A wise principal once told me that whoever is doing the work, is doing the learning. Wouldn’t it be beneficial for students to take on some of these tasks? I’ve decided to put ownership back into the hands of the kids. By preparing my students as leaders and setting them up for success, I can start them off on an amazing learning journey. This year for example, I’m putting together a library book selection committee of students from K–8 who will discuss and implement a plan for which books belong in the library. I usually spend hours compiling lists and sourcing tiles, and I’m not even the target audience for the material. This year my library collection will be fully representative of my students.

My robotics and Minecraft clubs will also be run by expert students this year. These kids know way more about robots and Minecraft then I do anyway. As an added responsibility, they will design lunch and learns for teachers on these topics.

The question becomes, how can I make sure that my students are good leaders? Do they have …

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Food Writing: From My Bookshelves and Browser

Jennifer Cockrall-King is the author of three food books, most recently her co-authored tawâw: Progressive Indigenous Cuisine, by Shane M. Chartrand. In this recommended reading list, she shares the food books, and writing and podcasts, that inspire her. 

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With my head buried in a cookbook project for two years solid (and a couple more before that as chef Shane M. Chartrand was seeking a place to begin the process of storytelling and recipe writing), I’ve kept myself inspired with the writing and talent of many Canadian food writers and cookbook authors.

Here’s a list of writers who’ve found a place on my bookshelves, my magazine stacks, and my bookmarks of good websites. I offer it up as a jumping-off point for a larger discussion of authors and thinkers who inspire us to think more deeply about the food we eat, cook, and share.

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Let’s start with Anita Stewart, because how many other cookbook authors and culinary writers are also members of the Order of Canada, University of Guelph Food Laureates, founders of Food Day Canada? Stewart has spent t …

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