Off the Page

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

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Book Cover What is Long Past Occurs in Full Light

"Woods," from WHAT IS LONG PAST OCCURS IN FULL LIGHT

By Marilyn Bowering

“Bowering is one of our essential poets...."

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Book Cover Moles

Wild Books About the Natural World

By Rachel Poliquin

Seriously fun non-fiction for middle-grade readers.

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Books for Summer Adventures

Books for Summer Adventures

By Sarah Campbell

Summer is a time for adventures! When you’re a kid anything can be magical when school is out — whether it’s campi …

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Book Cover One Piece of String

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Drawing the Line

By Julie Booker

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

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Book Cover Float and Scurry

Most Anticipated: 2019 Fall Poetry Preview

By 49th Shelf Staff

The poetry releases that are going to be making waves this autumn.

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The Chat with Derek Mascarenhas

The Chat with Derek Mascarenhas

By Trevor Corkum

Derek Mascarenhas' debut collection of short fiction, Coconut Dreams (Book*hug), explores the lives of Aiden and Ally Pi …

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Book Cover Crow

A Whisper to a Scream: Books with Compelling Narrative Voices

By Amy Spurway

"It is not just what is being said, but how."

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Book Cover Tiny Lights for Travellers

9 Great Memoirs by Women

By Naomi K. Lewis

A recommended reading list by the author of Tiny Lights for Travellers

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The Recommend for July 2019

The Recommend for July 2019

By Kiley Turner

This week we're pleased to present the picks of Arthur Slade (Amber Fang), Heather Smith (The Phone Booth in Mr. Hirota' …

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Book Cover Postcards Talk

Notes from a Children's Librarian: For the Love of Snail Mail

By Julie Booker

These picture books address the epistolary form in different ways—and high inspire some writing from holiday destinati …

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"Woods," from WHAT IS LONG PAST OCCURS IN FULL LIGHT

“Bowering is one of our essential poets. Despite her unflinching acknowledgement of the horrors humans visit on themselves and others, her vision is grounded in the subtle integrity of love. Her brilliant imagistic gift is always offered in service to the mystery of insight, the other invisible worlds gathered close in this one.” —Jan Zwicky 

*****

Woods 

Woods, you are very sly, picking those moments when you are quiet and off guard to reveal yourselves to us, folding us into your calm, accepting us to the sway, the rhythm of your space, space interwoven with the calm that rests forever in you….

—Emily Carr

 

Everywhere I looked, even on dark days,

sun eluded the trees and became the open palms 

of skunk cabbages (Lysichiton americanus), 

their yellow spathes soft and wet in the sponging air. 

I turned off the road, and the caravan wheels sank

in the marsh of the track. Nobody came this way,

but once—see the apple trees and the cut marks?—

a family planned to make a home in the forest banks.

 

I did not know that trees come quietly, 

their roots advance so slowly

I would not sense their approach

until their mouths opened high up,

within birds’ nests.

 

I lay down on the moss,

and listened to all they had to say—

because nothing could ever extinguish

the art of this gree …

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Wild Books About the Natural World

By August, your children may be more engaged with the natural world than ever after six weeks of digging in the mud, jumping off big rocks, plucking baby tomatoes from the vine in the garden, and climbing trees. So it's never been a better time for this fantastic list of awesome middle-grade nonfiction from Rachel Poliquin, whose new book is Moles

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With her Supersonic Snout Fingers and Blood of the Gods, Rosalie the Mole is the star of the second instalment in my Superpower Field Guide Series. Yes, Rosalie is a squinty-eyed mole, but don’t underestimate this unlikely hero. One part silly, two parts science, and jam-packed with full-colour illustrations by Nicholas John Frith, Moles will introduce middle-grade readers to their new favourite subterranean superhero. 

I love clever nonfiction that entertains kids while it teaches. And I love that the genre is undergoing a quiet but explosive revolution—particularly in the realm of nature books. Smart and funny authors and superb illustrators are transforming unexpected subjects like supernovas, head lice, and bacteria into serious fun. Here’s a list of highly entertaining and visually stunning nonfiction books sure to make middle-grade readers love the natural world around them.    

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Books for Summer Adventures

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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Summer is a time for adventures! When you’re a kid anything can be magical when school is out — whether it’s camping, trips to the mall, playing at parks and splash pads, library visits, or swimming in the lake. For some, summer is all about being in nature while others can’t imagine a day beyond their cities, riding the subway to the next exciting stop. There are no rules for what makes a summer special, as long as you spend time relaxing with the people you love.

 

Here are some primary picture books and middle school novels that show how some people spend their holidays. Hopefully they spark a memory or inspire a new tradition!

 

In Cary Fagan’s The Big Swim, Ethan has one goal: to survive summer camp. It’s his first time away from home but although he’d rather join his parents on their trip to Europe, he accepts his fate and becomes determined to make the best of things. Sometimes things are hard and parents aren’t always around to help. This novel is great at showing ways to cope with sadness and anxiety, ways to take care of ourselves, and how to know when to push beyond our comfort zon …

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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Drawing the Line

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

*****

Developing an understanding of line as a design element is part of the visual arts curriculum. These books are pitched primarily at a K-3 audience.

1 2 3 I Can Draw!, by Irene Luxbacher, is a superb teaching tool. Beginning with a visual list of necessary materials, it shows different types of lines, how to create drawings out of shapes, and how to construct different facial expressions. The books moves on to simple figure drawing, adding movement and texture. The grand finale: how to put all the techniques together. There’s a note to teachers and a pictorial index.

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For K-2, Scribble, by Ruth Ohi, begins with a scribbly line invading a group of shapes. The scribble asks the shapes to play, convincing them they’d be better off with a line. The line becomes waves, a tether, a beast, and eventually, the binding factor in a final picture.

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Most Anticipated: 2019 Fall Poetry Preview

Our Fall Preview continues with poetry, and the poetry releases that are going to be making waves this autumn. 

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Poet and intermedia artist Oana Avasilichioaei’s follow-up to Limbinal is Eight-Track (November), a transliterary exploration composed of eight “tracks” plus two bonus tracks, each of which explores one of the various meanings of the word “track”: musical track, a physical path, marks left by a person or animal, speech tracking, animal and human tracking, and systems of surveillance. The National Gallery (September), Jonathan Ball’s fourth poetry book and his first in seven years, swirls chaos and confession together, and at the book’s heart is a question: Why create art? Whether calling a tree “an anthology of leaves” or describing time as “a Fisher-Price View Master of ‘first kisses’ and ‘no return’ policies,” Chris Banks approaches writing as if anything might make for alarming, strange, and dizzying verse in Midlife Action Figure (September). 

Book Cover NDN coping Mechanisms

Building on the dreamy emotional landscapes she plumbed in If I We …

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