Articles Tagged ‘Books’

WEEKENDER: A princesses and dragons tea party, David Usher at Bronson Centre, and three events for holiday shopping

Inside Out is hosting the 6th annual LGBT Film Festival with 15 screenings over four days from all over the world. The 2012 lineup is particularly strong, featuring the award-winning film Cloudburst from Canadian director Tom Fitzgerald, as well as the highly anticipated regional premiere of Margarita from Canadian directors Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert. The ever-increasing popularity of this festival attracts thousands to see some of the year’s best LGBT films. A new addition to the 2012 festival is the inclusion of free programming for youth and families, encouraging people from all walks of life to join in the fun. Thursday, November 15, to Sunday, November 18. Prices vary. National Gallery of Canada, 360 Sussex Dr.,

David Usher rocks the Bronson Centre Friday, November 16. Photo by Sabrina Reeves.

As the former vocalist for the ‘90s multi-platinum Canadian band Moist, David Usher is no stranger to finding new ideas to explore in his music. He’s made a name for himself as a singer-songwriter with seven albums and four Juno awards. The Songs For The Last Day On Earth tour will consist of powerful new tunes that touch on a variety of subjects, and his thunderous vocals are sure to give audience members their money’s worth. Friday, November 16, 7 p.m. doors. $32.50 advance. Bronson Centre, 211 Bronson Ave.,

Since 1994, rob mclennan and the Small Press Action Network of Ottawa have brought together local writers, publishers, readers, and volunteers to support the small press industry at this book fair. What is small press, you ask? It’s the term given to independent publishers that only release a few books per year, usually less than 10. Surprisingly, these small press publishers make up half of the book publishing industry and largely support niche markets for poetry, genre fiction, limited edition books, and many more. The fair will have plenty of booths set up with all types of books, and is sure to have a little something for everyone. Some participants include Buschek Books, The Puritan Magazine, Arc Poetry Magazine, and The Ottawa Press Gang, to name just a few. Saturday, November 17, noon to 5 p.m. Jack Purcell Community Centre (Room 203), 320 Jack Purcell Ln.,

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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Award-winning science writer Jacob Berkowitz talks who we are and where we come from at Writers Fest

Jacob Berkowitz wants to change the way you think about science. The Almonte-based author, science writer, and journalist has spent the better part of the last two decades covering everything from fossilized excrement (his book Jurassic Poop: What Dinosaurs (and Others) Left Behind won the 2007 American Institute of Physics Children’s Book Award), to doughnut patents, to vasectomies. But it’s not just unconventional subject matter that sets Berkowitz’s writing apart. It’s the use of storytelling techniques – plot and character development, metaphors and anecdotes – that makes his work so refreshingly readable. Erica Eades caught up with Berkowitz ahead of his Ottawa International Writers Festival appearance.

Jacob Berkowitz will present a lecture entitled “Our Origin in the Stars” as part of the New Science Series at the Writers Fest.

What led you to science writing?
I’ve always had a love and a fascination for both science and writing. I would read someone like Stephen Jay Gould – he’s a famous evolutionary biologist and a fantastic writer – who would start a story with a single fossil, then tie that into the history of paleontology and larger cultural issues going on at the time. For me, that was a much more compelling approach to science, and really reflected what science is. It’s not something that’s apart from the rest of society; it’s deeply embedded in our nature.

What can you tell us about your latest book, The Stardust Revolution: The New Story of Our Origin in the Stars?
The Stardust Revolution is the third great scientific revolution of the past 500 years. In traditional thinking, the first of those revolutions is the Copernican Revolution, and the Darwinian Revolution followed that… The Stardust Revolution is basically the realization that life on Earth is not disconnected from the rest of the universe. Life on Earth is a cosmic phenomenon; it’s the result of processes that happen in outer space. The implications are that if there’s a cosmic ecology, then there are lots of other living planets out there.

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SHELF LIFE: A roundup of unique children’s books by local authors and illustrators – Part 4

In this series, Ottawa Magazine’s Vanessa Ortynsky rounds up four kids’ books by local writers and illustrators. From a super hero to a tightrope walker, the books create vibrant characters and colourful worlds of adventure and imagination for them to inhabit. Who knows? They may even get your non-reader reading.

The idea for the series came to Dustin Milligan after completing his first year of law at McGill. Only just beginning to get his head around Canadian law, Milligan became concerned about the common citizen’s ability to understand the complicated judicial system. Combining his love for both literature and law, he set forth to create an educational series introducing children to the basic principles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He plans to release 14 books, each set in a different province or territory, and addressing a different right or freedom. So far, six books have been released including Anne of Green Tomatoes, A Large Jaw in Moose Jaw, The Case of the Missing Montreal Bagel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Lobster, and The Plight Beneath the Northern Light.

As a University of Ottawa alum and former Senate page, Milligan is currently working on a book that will be set on Parliament Hill. Published by Ottawa’s DC Canada Education Publishing, two of the book’s three illustrators, Meredith Luce and Corey Tibbits are also based in the city. Tongue-in-cheek references to Canadian icons and Canadiana, including a few shout-outs to Tim Hortons and double-doubles, add to the local feel of the series.

The series is available online at, and at various bookstores in Ottawa including Collected Works and Octopus Books. Hardcover books are $16.95, paperbacks $11.95.

TASTE TEST: Two local writers join forces to create the cookbook Fresh & Healthy Cooking For Two

After being introduced in 2005, Ottawa authors Marilyn Booth and Ellie Topp began collaborating on a healthy cookbook that diligently follows Canada’s Food Guide. Besides finishing each other’s sentences and joking about taking ski trips together, what better a pairing than a professional food economist and a registered dietitian? Ottawa Magazine’s Vanessa Ortynsky sat down with the dynamic duo to talk about their cookbook Fresh & Healthy Cooking For Two and their upcoming book signing at Thyme & Again.

How did you two meet?
Ellie Topp: I had done a book for two, Savoury Wisdom (2003) with Suzanne Hendrix who is a dietitian. I asked Suzanne if she’d like to do another book, but she was working on other projects at the time.

Marilyn Booth: I met with a dietitian friend of mine, Debra Reid, who asked me if I would be interested in working on a book with Ellie.

Ellie, you studied home economics and food science. And Marilyn, your background is in physical education and nutrition. Tell me how this impacts your partnership.
Marilyn: Ellie is responsible for writing all the recipes and making sure they taste good and have enough flavour.

Ellie: Then Marilyn would come back and say “There’s too much salt,” and analyze [each recipe] for sodium and fat. We’ve set pretty tight guidelines.

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SHELF LIFE: A roundup of unique children’s books by local authors and illustrators – Part 3

In this series, Ottawa Magazine’s Vanessa Ortynsky rounds up four kids’ books by local writers and illustrators. From a super hero to a tightrope walker, the books create vibrant characters and colourful worlds of adventure and imagination for them to inhabit. Who knows? They may even get your non-reader reading.

Josée Lindsay was writing a self-help book for adults, wanting to summarize various concepts she had read about in other books. About halfway through the process, she changed her focus, inspired to teach these concepts to children instead. It wasn’t long before she came up with a rhyming picture book. Super Spark aims to shift the focus from idolizing a superhero to empowering the child with a story about an unconventional superhero who encourages children to pursue their dreams.

Ottawa-born Lindsay invites children to dream big, believe in the impossible, find self-acceptance, think positively, and seek unity. Also from Ottawa, Ray Ocampo’s vibrant illustrations bring light to some of life’s most important lessons. Lindsay’s favourite line sums up her own aspirations to pen and publish her first book: “Dare to dream BIG no matter what others think. Believe in the impossible and you will never sink. You are the captain of your own ship so steer in the direction that you wish.” Who wouldn’t want to pass on such feel-good messages to their kids? Lindsay is currently working on an electronic copy of the book as well as activities that can be done during the school year to bring these lessons to life.

Super Spark is available online at for $19.99.

SHELF LIFE: A roundup of unique children’s books by local authors and illustrators – Part 2

In this series, Ottawa Magazine’s Vanessa Ortynsky rounds up four kids’ books by local writers and illustrators. From a super hero to a tightrope walker, the books create vibrant characters and colourful worlds of adventure and imagination for them to inhabit. Who knows? They may even get your non-reader reading.

Rick Scott’s dramatized musical audio novel brings his unique blend of music and storytelling into the literary world. The prevalent themes of fear, friendship, literacy, and the power of the creative process characterize The Great Gazzoon. While much of the cast is located on the west coast, the 40-page songbook that accompanies the CDs was illustrated by Ottawa artist Linda Sanborn, who created 50 original paintings for the story. The audio novel features 25 actors, singers, and musicians, and was inspired by Scott’s own experiences in facing his fears and learning to walk tightrope. In the story, instead of practicing to “walk the wire” between the towering peaks of Mount Lanadoon, Gazzoon Wazoo spends his time playing music and making up songs. Can one boy’s love of music outsmart the angry Winds, defeat wily Lord Grot, and bring balance and safety to the Kingdom? It will surely be fun finding out.

Available online for $35 at and, as well as at Books on Beechwood.

SHELF LIFE: A roundup of unique children’s books by local authors and illustrators – Part 1

In this series, Ottawa Magazine’s Vanessa Ortynsky rounds up four kids’ books by local writers and illustrators. From a super hero to a tightrope walker, the books create vibrant characters and colourful worlds of adventure and imagination for them to inhabit. Who knows? They may even get your non-reader reading.

This one-of-a-kind children’s book takes readers on a captivating adventure to Canada’s Arctic. Written by nationally renowned photographer and philanthropist Michelle Valberg, “Ben and Nuki Discover Polar Bears” was released across Canada this month. It follows two boys – one from the south, the other from the north – as they learn about each other’s cultures, embark on a northern adventure, and discover one of Canada’s most iconic animals – the polar bear.

The proceeds from Valberg’s first children’s book will support Project North, a program that generates education and fitness opportunities for Inuit youth. When asked about why she wrote Ben and Nuki, Valberg says, “I wanted to bring the beauty of Canada’s north to life for children across Canada, and abroad. The landscape, its people, and its animals are all absolutely breathtaking. I wanted to share this with children in a way that captivated their attention and took them on an exciting adventure.” The story is set against a stunning backdrop comprised of photographs from the Artic, which were taken by Valberg.

Released this month, Ben and Nuki Discover Polar Bears, $19 will be available online at, and various locations throughout Ottawa. See website for locations.

WEEKENDER: Nuit Blanche is finally here, Animation Fest brings in the best, and Color Vibe’s 5K is one of a kind

The lively animation of Smith & Foulkes will be one of the highlights at this year's Ottawa International Animation Festival. Photo by Smith & Foulkes.

The Ottawa International Animation Festival presents the world’s most cutting-edge, quirky, and important animation, and transforms Ottawa into the centre of the animation universe (if we do say so ourselves). As the largest event of its kind in North America, OIAF is a major film event that attracts attendees from around the world. Film buffs, art lovers, and cartoon fans won’t want to miss this year’s great line up, which includes the work of U.K. animation directors Smith & Foulkes, who’ve animated everything from Coke commercials to an Oscar-nominated 3D short. Films by Ralph Bakshi and Karen Aqua, plus viral YouTube videos, are also on the bill. Taking place at ByTowne Cinema, National Gallery of Canada, Empire Theatres Rideau Centre and Arts Court Theatre. September 19 to 23. Single tickets from $12. See website for schedule of events.

Recognize the name? Illustrator and animator Cohen turned Roch Carrier’s short story The Hockey Sweater into an animated film (he also did the illustrations for the beloved book about hockey and the clash of cultures). He’ll be doing a special signing for his new book This Sweater is for You! He’ll also be delving in the notebooks, photos, and memories to recreate the process he undertook to make The Sweater. Friday, September 21, 6 p.m. National Arts Centre Lobby, 53 Elgin St.,

Common knowledge decrees that a comedian must have a TV sitcom, a hit movie, or a high profile comedy album to succeed. Peters, however, has built a massive following by word of mouth, completely bypassing mainstream media outlets. (In 2008, Peters was one of the first stand-up comedians to self-finance, self-produce, and distribute his own comedy specials and DVDs.) For the past few years he’s been selling out theatres across the US and Canada with his hilarious and pointed observations on race and culture. (We hear tickets have gone fast but there are still some of the cheap seats left – worth the money, we say!) Friday, September 21, 8:00 p.m. $39-$110. Scotiabank Place, 1000 Palladium Dr.,

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WEEKENDER: Electronic dance music, a roof-top party, and plenty of Canada Day fun for this patriotic long weekend

Bringing together performers from all provinces and of all ages, Unisong celebrates the diversity of Canadians while unifying them with song. At least one choir from each province, from grade schoolers to retirees, will perform music from a variety of time periods this weekend. Thursday, June 28, to Monday, July 2. National Arts Centre, 53 Elgin St., and the Canadian Museum of Civilization, 100 Laurier St., and other venues,

If you still don’t know how to use a hashtag, you’d better register for this event. Ottawa’s Third Annual Mashable Social Media Day Meetup is being held this Friday at Carleton University. Those who already know the basics will have something to learn as well though, with talks about how to leverage Google+, Twitter, and Facebook for business purposes like branding and marketing. Friday, June 29, 10 a.m. Azrieli Pavilion Room 132 at Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Dr.,

Whoever invented the term “Canadian tuxedo” had never been to this event. Flaunt celebrates Canada Day weekend in the most stylish way possible — with a chic party on the roof of the National Arts Centre. Get your hair and makeup done, browse through items by independent Canadian designers, and groove to music by not one, but two DJs. Ticket price includes a cocktail, manicure, hair and makeup touch-up, sweets, and a swag bag. Friday, June 29, 7 p.m. $30 in advance, $40 at the door. National Arts Centre, 53 Elgin St.,

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THE ARTFUL BLOGGER: New book shines spotlight on a racist former governor general — and on the current prime minister

By Paul Gessell

Former governor general John Buchan in a photo by Yousuf Karsh. © Yousuf Karsh.

A guidebook aimed at immigrants hoping to become citizens tells these prospective Canadians about what a wonderful paragon of multiculturalism was former governor general John Buchan, the 1st Baron Tweedsmuir.

Immigrant groups “should retain their individuality and each make its contribution to the national character,” Buchan said, according to the government publication Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship.

Now, doesn’t that make you feel a little more comfortable about becoming Canadian? No need to discard all your cultural baggage from the Old Country.

A Yousuf Karsh photo of Buchan, wearing a Blood (Kainai First Nation) headdress, appears in Discover Canada, the contents of which immigrants are advised to study if they want to pass their citizenship tests.

Discover Canada offers one take on Buchan, who served as governor general from 1935-1940. Another is offered in the new book Warrior Nation: Rebranding Canada in an Age of Anxiety, by Kingston authors Ian McKay and Jamie Swift.

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