amazon.ca

Thousands of Canadian-authored kids and YA books

Blog

The Chat with Hasan Namir

Hasan Namir_Author Photo_Credit Tarn Khare

Praising the work, Griffin Poetry Prize winner Kaie Kellough says, “Umbilical Cord’s poems have a lucent quality and a supple rhythm that carries their tenderness to a reader. In an instant, the poems can become as raw, as immediate as touch. This work begins in heat and heartbeat, as a relationship and a family come into being, and it reflects the intimacies, anxieties, and devotions of love.  At once personally revealing and focused outward on the challenges that queer families face, in Umbilical Cord love triumphs over intolerance, and the future, named “Malek,” is nurtured by two devoted fathers.” 

Hasan Namir is an Iraqi-Canadian author. He graduated from Simon Fraser University with a BA in English and received the Ying Chen Creative Writing Student Award. He is the author of God in Pink (2015), which won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Fiction and was chosen as one of the Top 100 Books of 2015 by The Globe and Mail. His work has also been in media across Canada. He is also the author of the poetry book War/Torn (2019, Book*hug Press) which received the 2020 Barbara Gittings Honor Book Award from the Stonewall Book Awards, and children’s book The Name I Call Myself (2020). Hasan lives in Vancouver with his husband and child.

**

Trevor Corkum …

Continue reading »

Small Courage: Parenting Memoirs

Book Cover Small Courage

Jane Byers' book is Small Courage: A Queer Memoir of Finding Love and Conceiving Family, a thoughtful and heart-warming examination of love, queerness and what it means to be a family.

Here, she shares other parenting memoirs that have inspired her.

*****

Home Ice, by Angie Abdou

This memoir by Fernie, BC–based novelist struck a chord with me. Both Angie Abdou and I are parents of sporty kids. Her romp through a year of her 10-year-old son playing minor hockey resonated with me, having played recreational hockey, but I hadn’t navigated the pitfalls of that mythical Canadian hockey-parent culture. I found myself bristling at the same things Abdou bristled at, and, as a former athlete, also being conflicted acknowledging the great things about sports and specifically team sports, but recognizing also the detrimental effects on our youth of a sport’s particular culture.

This memoir follows one hockey season, the divide-and-conquer parenting that often accompanies having a child in hockey, and the toll it takes on a relationship.

*

Continue reading »

The Chat with Jessica Westhead

JWesthead-photo-49thShelfTheChat

Jessica Westhead’s work is well known to fans across Canada. She returns to The Chat this month to talk about latest novel, the psychological thriller Worry.

Taking place over 48 hours in remote cottage country, it explores the complex relationship between best friends Ruth and Stef.

Quill & Quire says “Westhead is a concise wordsmith; Worry is a quick and engrossing read."
 
Jessica Westhead’s fiction has been shortlisted for the CBC Literary Awards, selected for the Journey Prize anthology, and nominated for a National Magazine Award. Her short stories have appeared in major literary journals in Canada, the US and the UK, including Hazlitt, Maisonneuve, Indiana Review and Hamish Hamilton’s Five Dials. She is the author of the novel Pulpy & Midge and the critically acclaimed short story collections Things Not to Do and And Also Sharks, which was a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book, a Kobo’s Best eBook of the Year and a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. Westhead is a creative writing instructor at the Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University.

**

Trevor Corkum: Worry is such a fraught novel, tense in so many ways. What made you want to write this kind of psychological thriller? In what ways would you say this is a

Continue reading »

The Space Between

For most of the country, April sits in an uncertain place between winter and spring, too often rushed through, but which is also a fascinating destination in its own right with the beginning of so much unfolding—at least once the snow melts. So we're pausing here for a moment to consider books that similarly inhabit places in between, resulting in this rich and diverse list that spans genres.  

*****

Through Not Around: Stories of Infertility and Pregnancy Loss, edited by Allison McDonald Ace, Ariel Ng Bourbonnais, and Caroline Starr

About the book: Infertility and pregnancy loss can be devastating, yet both are often private sorrows for the one in six people who cope with the experience. This collection offers personal stories about what it's like to go through the emotional and physical facets of infertility, miscarriage, and pregnancy loss: the pain, sadness, and desperation, the hope, humour, and frustration.

Through, Not Around offers reassurance to those in the midst of their own struggles that they are not alone and that it is possible to find acceptance and strength on the other side of grief. The way forward is by going through the grief, not around it.

Why we're taking notice: Navigating that many-woman's land between childlessness and parenthood, these es …

Continue reading »

Happy Parents, Happy Kids: Ann Douglas on Building Your Online Village

Our focus on community continues with this excerpt from parenting expert Ann Douglas's exciting new book, Happy Parents, Happy Kids (and there's an incredible idea, right?). From the book's chapter on the necessity of connecting with community ("finding your village"), Douglas shares tips and advice for parents about the challenges and rewards of online support. 

Happy Parents, Happy Kids is out on February 19.

*****

There are times when parenting can feel particularly lonely and isolating, like on days when you're caring round-the-clock for a sick child or are temporarily stuck indoors in the wake of an ice storm. These are times when you badly need support and when that support can feel impossibly far away—unless, of course, you are able to find community online.

 

THE UPSIDE

Online support is the modern equivalent of the 1970s mom­ to-mom phone call, during which stay-at-home moms found themselves holding on to the telephone receiver for dear life. In many ways, online support is better than that old-school land­ line connection, instantly connecting you to the entire world of mothers, or at least those who choose to congregate online. For one thing, there's the 24/7 nature of that support. As Janette, the mother of three young children, explains, "With social m …

Continue reading »

Raising Royalty: The Canadian History

Book Cover Raising Royalty

From keeping Vikings at bay to fending off paparazzi, Carolyn Harris—in her new book Raising Royaltyexplores the history of royal parenting and how its changes have reflected wider societal trends, and vice versa. In this guest post for us, she delves into the Canadian history of royal parenting, which includes a famous embrace, a Dutch princess born in Ottawa, and the wife of a Governor General...who happened to be Queen Victoria's daughter!  

****

In September 2016, William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Victoria, British Columbia with their two young children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte. The royal children did not simply accompany their parents for a week in Canada but shaped the nature of the royal tour. With the exception of a single overnight in Whitehorse, Yukon, the royal couple’s itinerary allowed them to spend the evenings at the Lieutenant Governor’s residence in Victoria with their children. The royal children even undertook public engagements, appearing with their parents at the beginning and end of the tour and taking centre stage at a picnic for children of military families. The Canadian public admired the royal couple’s rapport with their children and images from the Canadian tour continue to appear in a …

Continue reading »

Everything I Know About Life I Learned from Picture Books

Every year on January 27, Canadians celebrate Family Literacy Day, an initiative to affirm the importance of reading and engaging in other literacy-related activities as a family. And while the benefits to children of exposure to books and literacy are well-documented, less sung is just how much wisdom an adult reader can garner from children's literature. These books are not just for the kids, and they've affirm to me some of the most important lessons I've learned in my life. We all get a lot out of returning to these stories again and again. 

*****

On diversity:  

 

We all count. 

From We All Count, by Julie Flett: We All Count: A Book of Cree Numbers is the 2014 board book from Native Northwest featuring the artwork of Cree/Métis artist Julie Flett. In this basic counting book from 1 to 10, this bilingual board book introduces Plains Cree (y-dialect) and Swampy Cree (n-dialect) written in Roman orthography. Artist and author has a simple graphic style using bold and clear text to introduce counting with appropriate cultural images from contemporary Cree society. An excellent introduction to counting to ten in Cree and English using authentic Cree imagery.

**

Continue reading »

A Pinny Summer Checklist

Pinny in Summer Cover

Pinny in Summer, by Joanne Schwartz and Isabelle Malenfant, received a nice shout-out in the New York Times the other weekend, and no wonder: it's fantastic, with prose just as gorgeous as its pictures. Pinny's story is a celebration of simple living, of no-tech summer freedom and fun, and so to get your little ones in the spirit, we've made a Pinny Summer Checklist so that, like Pinny, they don't miss a single thing. 

*****

1) Go Looking for a Wishing Rock

A wishing rock, according to Pinny (AND according to the Wishing Stones website run by the Wishing Stones Gallery on Big Tancook Island in Nova Scotia), is a special kind of rock that has a stripe running all the way around it. As Pinny acknowledges, wishing rocks are hard to find, but it's the looking that's the real adventure. Even if you don't find a wishing rock, you're sure to find something. And if you do find a wishing rock, you can make a wish. 

Even better: wishing rocks don't have rules

Pinny in Summer 1

2) Go Cloud Watching

When Pinny and her friends lie down in the grass and watching the clouds, they see cl …

Continue reading »

Top Shelf: Recent Favourites

There is so much good stuff on 49th Shelf that we sometimes compile our favourites to keep them close at hand via this series, Top Shelf. If there's not a book for you here—nay, ten!—well, we guess there isn't but it would be very, very strange. Enjoy!

*****

Sometimes cities pulse with energy and optimism. And sometimes they crush. Urban Grit is about the crush, with characters struggling to survive and even thrive in the face of it.

Check out Suzanne Allyssa Andrew's blog post along these lines, as well: Messes and Meltdowns in the City.

*****

Whether or not you believe that "short is the new long" when it comes to fiction, you'd be hard-pressed to turn down a book or two on this list of hot short story collections that came out in Spring 2015. Another hugely popular list among members in this same area is Canadian Short Stories, The New Generation, a crowdsourced list of writers who may be heirs-apparent to Munro and Gallant, and who are most definitely compelling Canadian voices in the twenty-first century.

*****

Continue reading »

Detachment: Maurice Mierau on Family, Adoption, and Memoir

Book Cover Detachmen

November is Adoption Awareness Month, which puts the spotlight on issues facing families with adopted children. And so this month is also the perfect time for a conversation with Maurice Mierau, author of Detachment: An Adoption Memoir. Detachment tells the story of Mierau and his wife's journey to Ukraine in 2005 to adopt two small boys, and describes the joys and challenges of their early days as a family of four. With humour and honestly, Mierau writes about the process of learning to be a father, and also about how this experience affected his marriage, his relationship with his own father, and that with his son from a previous relationship. 

Maurice Mierau lives in Winnipeg, and is author of the poetry collections, Ending With Music and Fear Not

*****

49th Shelf: I love the line that comes early in the memoir, delivered by a psychologist: “So you’re writing a book about people you ignore.” It highlights the contradiction inherent for anyone writing about family life—children can be so inspiring, but they keep you away from the actual work. Detachment is very much about your evolution as a father and a husband, but can you tell me about the evolution of the book itself? What was the book that you set out to write and how did it become this one?

Maurice …

Continue reading »

Behind the Poem: DH by Melanie Dennis Unrau

Happiness Threads

Sitting down to write “behind” one of the poems from my new collection, Happiness Threads: The Unborn Poems, I realize many of these poems don’t have much of a backstory. The book is about mothering young children, so the background is my experience of that phase of white, middle-class, Canadian life. More specifically, it’s based in my experience in Wolseley—the “granola belt” of Winnipeg, now a more desirable neighbourhood than it was when we moved in a decade ago. It has hundred-year-old houses, organic grocery stores, a bakery famous for its whole-wheat cinnamon buns, families hanging out with neighbours on their stoops and porches, and more than its fair share of the earthy, natural-parenting mamas who appear in my poems. 

When my second child was a baby I joined a babywearing support group. You know the slings, wraps, and other contraptions parents use to carry their babies around? Well, if you’re really into those things you call yourself a babywearer. We had a lending library where anyone could borrow a carrier and try it out for a month or more at a time. And we had an online forum for babywearing parents. It turned out the “parents” were all mothers.

Both the face-to-face meetings and the more frequent online conversations came to mean …

Continue reading »

Novelist Ali Bryan on Gender-Neutral Domestic Humour

Ali Bryan, author of Roost (Freehand Books).

Working in the space "hilarity and humiliation" (Todd Babiak), Roost (Freehand Books), by Ali Bryan is about family tragedy and the moments for which we hadn't planned. Roost plays with the absurd nature of forced transition, resulting in a truly laugh-out-loud debut novel, something The Toronto Star picked up on calling Bryan an "amusing writer who has mastered the voice of the self-deprecating female, amusing without being annoying."

We contacted Bryan for comment, and to ask the question, is domestic humour a many-gendered thing?

-----

Julie Wilson: Let's start with The Toronto Star quote. I read it and had a kind of knee-jerk reaction. Were they commenting on gender? Domestic narratives? Writers who pull from life?

First, how does humour fit into your life?

Ali Bryan: I’m fascinated by how laughter tends to evolve from a simple involuntary reaction—a baby playing peek-a-boo—to a complex coping mechanism. Charlie Chaplin said “laughter is the tonic, the relief the surcease for pain.” I love the notion of laughter as tonic. Something wet and consumable and physical. It’s hot yoga for your mental and emotional junk drawer.

Personally, I use humor as a vice to cope with the everyday. Baby spitting up milk puke on husband’s side of the bed is made funny b …

Continue reading »