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On Our Radar: Dancing Chickens, Pregnancy Loss, Powerful Poetry, and Pandemic Days

"Dumont employs her signature razor-sharp wit and impeccable comedic timing to this wildly entertaining novel."

The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour, by Dawn Dumont

Recommended by Iron Dog Books' Hilary Atleo at CBC British Columbia

About the book: The hilarious story of an unlikely group of Indigenous dancers who find themselves thrown together on a performance tour of Europe

The Tour is all prepared. The Prairie Chicken dance troupe is all set for a fifteen-day trek through Europe, performing at festivals and cultural events. But then the performers all come down with the flu. And John Greyeyes, a retired cowboy who hasn't danced in fifteen years, finds himself abruptly thrust into the position of leading a hastily-assembled group of replacement dancers.

A group of expert dancers they are not. There's a middle-aged woman with advanced arthritis, her nineteen-year-old niece who is far more interested in flirtations than pow-wow, and an enigmatic man from the U.S.—all being chased by Nadine, the organizer of the original tour who is determined to be a part of the action, and the handsome man she picked up in a gas-station bathroom. They're all looking to John, who has never left the continent, to guide them through a world that he knows nothing about. As the gang makes it …

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Tough Like Mum: An Essential Picture Book for Kids *and* Adults

Written by York Region District School Board Teacher Librarian Geoffrey Ruggero

Picture books are often written with young children as their intended audience. In Tough Like Mum, Lana Button provides adults with important messaging that we need to be reminded of.

Kim’s mum is tough. She works hard to provide for her daughter and keep her happy. But sometimes, Kim can tell her mum is not feeling well, as Kim must step up and take care of them both. Other parents in the neighbourhood say that Kim is strong just like her mother, even though she is just a child. Whether it’s making meals, getting ready for school, or just putting on a brave face, Kim shows that she can handle it.

Educators and parents often say they know how children are feeling. But do we? Sure we were once that age, but a lot has happened since then. Do we really remember what it was like to experience things for the first time? Do we really remember what it was like to deal with adult problems at such a young age? The world is different, how can we truly say that we know how the children of today are feeling?

Lana Button writes most of her picture books to “show the perspective and situation of a child that might be going unnoticed.” For educators, we try our best to get to know each one of ou …

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Launchpad: NOOPIMING, by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Launchpad Logo

Last spring—as launches, festivals and other events were cancelled across the country—49th Shelf helped Canadian authors launch more than 50 new books with LAUNCHPAD. And now we're back this fall, but with a twist.

LAUNCHPAD 2.0 features new releases selected by great Canadian writers who've chosen books that absolutely deserve to find their way into the hands of readers.

Today we're launching Noopiming: The Cure For White Ladies, by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, which is being championed by Megan Gail Coles, who writes: 

"Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies is likely the most admirably audacious novel of the year. With each publication, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson re-establishes herself as a revolutionary writer willing to take innovative risks in order to communicate bold intentions that challenge damaging colonial narratives.

"In her most recent book, she centres relationality so thoroughly as to destabilize even the reader's limiting preconception of how words must be laid out upon the page. This is bold storytelling drawing upon a rich history to present a possible future. Simpson is generously gifting readers, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, with an opportunity to engage in the necessary difficult work of further decolonizing our minds.

"I have decided t …

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Most Anticipated: Our Fall 2020 Books for Young Readers Preview

New books for young readers...and readers of all ages!

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Picture Books

Told in rhyming verse, The Old Man and the Penguin (October), by Julie Abery and illustrated by Pierre Pratt, is the touching true story of an oil-soaked penguin, the man who rescues him and an unlikely friendship. Cakes, cookies or pie? A rivalry among local bakers is the basis for the deliciously sweet, off-the-wall picture book It Happened On Sweet Street (July), by Caroline Adderson, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch. Bed has something to say. Bed knows you do not like bedtime. Bed gets it. But look ... YOU are not so great, either: Monica Arnaldo provides the other side of the story in Time for Bed's Story (September). And a young girl discovers nature’s surprising beauty in The Most Amazing Bird (November), from renowned Inuit storyteller Michael Arvaarluk Kusugak, illustrated by Andrew Qappik.

Book Cover Princesses Vs Dinosaurs

Two popular storybook titans, princesses and dinosaurs, battle to determine who should star in Linda Bailey's new laugh-out-loud picture book, Princesses Versus Dinosaurs (September), …

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Most Anticipated: Our 2020 Fall Poetry Preview

Our Fall Preview continues with poetry, with an intriguing selection of debuts, selected/collected works, and other excellent new releases.

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(Re)Generation (January) contains selected poetry by Anishinaabe writer Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm that deals with a range of issues: from violence against Indigenous women and lands to Indigenous erotica and the joyous intimate encounters between bodies. Susan Alexander’s Nothing You Can Carry (September) is rooted in a keen, even holy, sense of place within the natural world. Text Messages (September) is the first multi-genre collection by Montreal-based Iraqi hip-hop artist, activist, and professor Yassin “Narcy” Alsalman. And Dearly (November) is Margaret Atwood’s first collection in over a decade, bringing together many of her most recognizable and celebrated themes, but distilled.

The concerns of Swivelmount (September)—the collapse of subject and world, eros and law, knowledge and bafflement—gain new urgency as Ken Babstock fiercely reimagines and reassembles the remnants into a viable order. A b …

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5 Cool Books to Order Right Now

Turn off that weird-ass tiger show, guys. Books are still happening. Order these titles from your local indie, as e-books or audio-books, from the library, or from online retailers. You will be happy you did.

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Stay Where I Can See You, by Katrina Onstad

About the book: Does good fortune always change things for the better?

The Kaplan family has just won 10 million dollars in the lottery. But haven’t they always been lucky? Gwen thought so. She’s carefully curated a perfect suburban existence with a loving husband and two children. For over a decade, she’s been a stay-at-home mom, devoted to giving her kids the quiet, protected adolescence she didn’t have. But the surprise windfall suddenly upends the family, allowing them all to dream a little bigger and catapulting them back to the city that Gwen fled years ago.

As the Kaplans navigate the notoriety that the lottery brings and try to adjust to their new lives in the upper class—Seth launches a dubious start-up, Maddie falls headfirst in love at her elite prep school—a tightly held secret is unlocked. Along with the truth come long-buried memories from Gwen’s troubled youth, forcing her to confront her painful past and threatening to unravel the incredibly tight bond between her and Maddie. Her meti …

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Launchpad: The Kissing Fence, by B.A. Thomas-Peter

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching The Kissing Fence, by B.A. Thomas-Peter, which Genevieve Graham calls "A compelling story of faith and loyalty, abuse and adversity, and the hope for a better tomorrow."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

The Kissing Fence uses a fictional account of real events in BC, following the struggle of two generations of Doukhobors to explore what happens when culture, values, and identity are lost, and what causes someone to change course …

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Launchpad: Polar Vortex, by Shani Mootoo

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're featuring award-winning writer Shani Mootoo whose new release is Polar Vortex, an intense, propulsive read about a love triangle that turns out to be even more complicated than that, a novel that's gorgeously wrought and excruciatingly (in the best way!) unputdownable. 

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

Priya has not come clean with her partner Alexandra about her old university friend Prakash, with whom she had a long push-and-pull relat …

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Launchpad: The Union of Smokers, by Paddy Scott

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're featuring Paddy Scott, whose debut novel is The Union of Smokers, described as "an entirely new kind of story told by a gutter-mouthed, chain-smoking twelve year old, who announces in the opening paragraph that he’s going to die today."

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Book Cover The Union of Smokers

The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

The Union of Smokers is a day in the life and a life in the final day of narrator Kaspar Pine, a young man who takes it upon himself to use his last hours on earth to educat …

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Launchpad: Junebat, by John Elizabeth Stintzi

Launchpad Logo

This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter, great insight, and short and snappy readings to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

First up is John Elizabeth Stintzi, whose poetry has been awarded the 2019 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers and the Long Poem Prize from the Malahat Review. Their debut poety collection is Junebat, of which Billy Ray Belcourt has written, "To the poetics of the queer everyday Stintzi adds their ‘Junebat,’ a multitudinous concept of such explanatory power I’m certain it’ll endure in the collective memory of Canadian writing."

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us …

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Most Anticipated: Spring 2020 Poetry Preview

We continue looking forward to spring releases. Don't miss our Fiction and Nonfiction previews.

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Irfan Ali's debut Accretion (April) is set in Toronto, unfurling against the backdrop of an ancient Persian love story. Softening concrete poetry with humour and tenderness, POP (April), by Simina Banu, takes an uncommon perspective on modern poetic traditions, combining deft lyricism with visual poems for a playful romp. In Tanja Bartel’s riveting poetry debut, Everyone At This Party (March), the bucolic Vancouver suburbs clash with the interpersonal. And Ross Belot has a filmmaker’s sense of atmosphere, an environmentalist’s urgency and his stark lines take the reader deep into the heart of industrial man in Moving to Climate Change Hours (April).

Gwen Benaway follows up the Governor General’s Award-winning Holy Wild with day/break (April), exploring the everyday poetics of the trans feminine body. Bertrand Bickersteth’s debut collection The Response of Weeds (April) explores what it means to be Black and Albertan through numerous prisms: h …

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Spring 2020 Books: What's Trending?

Halfway through our preview of books from the first half of 2020 (check out our Fiction Preview and our Nonfiction Preview, and stay tuned for Poetry coming this week...) and here are some of the trends we're noticing.

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Bigfoot

The Wild Heavens, by Sarah Butler (March)

About the book: It all starts with an impossibly large set of tracks, footprints for a creature that could not possibly exist. The words sasquatch, bigfoot and yeti never occur in this novel, but that is what most people would call the hairy, nine-foot creature that would become a lifelong obsession for Aidan Fitzpatrick, and in turn, his granddaughter Sandy Langley.

The novel spans the course of single winter day, interspersed with memories from Sandy’s life—childhood days spent with her distracted, scholarly grandfather in a remote cabin in British Columbia’s interior mountains; later recollections of new motherhood; and then the tragic disappearance that would irrevocably shape the rest of her life, a day when all signs of the mysterious creature would disappear for thirty years. When the enigmatic tracks finally reappear, Sandy sets out on the trail alone, determined to find out the truth about the mystery that has shaped her life.

The Wild Heavens is an impressive and evocative debut, con …

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