25th Trillium Award

Open Book’s Holiday Book Guide 2011: Exploration and Discovery

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Happy Holidays from Open Book! Our second annual Holiday Book Guide will direct you to some of the most engaging books on store shelves this season. Open Book's Guide will be regularly updated throughout December, featuring a fresh theme with each listing.



Catherine Black is an author that likes to blur the lines between what is conventionally termed as "poetry" and "prose." With A Hard Gold Thread (Guernica Editions), she leans more towards the latter and weaves together an "experimental memoir" that deals with the fluidity of memory and her changing relationship and recollection with the past. Her sentences are heady and well weighted, which makes for some very evocative imagery and heart-wrenching realizations.  

Nominated for the Trillium Award and winner of the ReLit Award for Poetry, Dani Couture’s Sweet (Pedlar Press) is being snapped up by lovers of poetry across the country. Open Book’s June 2011 Writer in Residence Jessica Westhead listed Sweet as one of her recommended reads: “I think of these poems as gentle-looking creatures laying in wait to pounce and bite. In Sweet, Dani Couture deftly renders small, startling moments of violence and bleak, lush sadness.”

Travel with photojournalist Anthony Dalton with his book, Adventures with Camera and Pen (BookLand Press), in which Dalton shares his favourite stories from his journeys. Dalton writes, “The rivers and seas of our world have provided me with much pleasure and the chance to cruise across their surfaces in an eclectic variety of craft, from dugout canoes in Africa to giant windjammers on the oceans. Deserts with giant sand dunes; mountains and glaciers; forests and open plains, have given me scenes for my cameras and grist for my literary mill.”

Combining the timeless lyrics of Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell with beautiful illustrations by Brian Deines, The Circle Game (Dancing Cat Books) is an ode to the simple magic and wonderment of youth. This classic folk song is now introduced to a whole new generation of dreamers.

Silver Linings (General Store Publishing House) by Kate James tells the story of Katlyn Monroe, whose world is shattered after the accidental death of her fiancé. Attempting to pick up the pieces, she moves to their St. Lucian villa and works to fulfill her dreams of owning an art gallery. Just as life seems to be settling down and Katlyn begins to open up her heart again, fate intervenes and threatens to once again destroy everything she has worked towards.

Dear Baobab (Second Story Press) by Cheryl Foggo is a touching story about Maiko, a seven-year-old boy from Tanzania who, after his parents died, “blew across the ocean” to his new home with his aunt and uncle. He misses his old home and the big baobab trees, but in his new home he begins to hear the whisper of a small spruce.... Dear Baobab is beautifully illustrated by award-winning illustrator Qin Leng.

“The particularly gruesome twist that zombies offer is that they’re a deathly parody of the living. You might shoot a polar bear coming at you without a second thought, but would you shoot your grandma? Maybe, but if you pause to think about it, you’d soon be a zombie snack.” In the introduction to Braaaiiinnnsss! From Academics to Zombies (University of Ottawa Press) the book's editor, Robert Smith? (the question mark is part of his name), a professor of mathematics and statistics at the University of Ottawa, discusses why zombies have captured the public imagination. The book consists of fun and fascinating essays by a group of writers and scholars who take a serious look at how zombies threaten our lives.

A highly readable and engaging book, Dreams & Due Dilligence (University of Toronto Press) by Joe Sornberger tells the story of Ernest Armstrong McCulloch and James Edgar Till, the scientists who proved the existence of stems cell. Their work has enabled others to develop therapies that have saved thousands of lives.

The life of one of Canada’s most internationally known poets is detailed in Lost Passport: The Life and Words of Edward Lacey (BookLand Press) by Fraser Sutherland. Lacey was a pioneer of gay poetry in the 1950s and traveled extensively teaching English in Mexico, Trinidad, Brazil, Thailand and Indonesia. This enigmatic man was described as sociable but aloof and “a lifelong enemy of authority.”

Celebrate the Year of the Short Story (YOSS) with Latha Viswanathan’s short story collection, Lingering Tide (TSAR Publications). The stories in the collection are about the lives and relationships of immigrants and about coping with changes and cultural differences, small and large. Set in Toronto, New Jersey, Texas and India, readers will be drawn in by Viswanathan’s vivid, beautiful prose. Start reading one story, and you’ll find you’re not able to put the book down.

George A Walker’s woodcuts for Alice in Wonderland (The Porcupine’s Quill) are magical. This version of Alice is a must-have book for fans of Carroll’s work, fans of Walker’s work and anyone wishing to slip into a dreamy wonderland.

Sophie is heading out on a cross-country trip with her family, but her favourite companion, her Bear, gets left behind. Bear is not about to sit idly missing his Sophie. He hits the road in pursuit, and in the process of searching for each other, the two friends discover the wonders of Canada. Where Are You Bear? (Owlkids), written by Frieda Wishinsky and illustrated by Sean L Moore, is a charming alphabet book that takes you from an Adventure on the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador to Zooming in a boat off the coast of British Columbia.

Poet and editor Elana Wolff puts together yet another quality collection of poems that delve deeply into Jungian psychology. The concept of the shadow figures prominently throughout Startled Night, and as Elana told OBT in a recent interview, "we all acquire a shadow early on in life through the acculturation process. By adulthood we’re 'certifiably divided' — we have the socially and personally acceptable aspects of our personality, and then the parts we hide, or try to hide." And, indeed, these poems are about our veiled secrets, and they tease out this subject matter with a metaphorical language that is equal to the task. 


Buy these books at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

The Holiday Book Guide is written by Kate Burgess, Michael Doyle and Clelia Scala

Are you a high school student who loves to write? Check out Write Across Ontario, a creative writing contest for Ontario high school students from IFOA Ontario and Open Book: Ontario. You can find the full details at http://www.litontour.com/write-across-ontario.

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