War, politics and upheaval are explored in the five books shortlisted for this year's J.W. Dafoe Book Prize, named for the former editor of the Manitoba Free Press (eventually the Winnipeg Free Press).

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War, politics and upheaval are explored in the five books shortlisted for this year's J.W. Dafoe Book Prize, named for the former editor of the Manitoba Free Press (eventually the Winnipeg Free Press).

The five titles, selected from 47 from across Canada, are The Necessary War, Vol. 1: Canadians Fighting the Second World War, by Tim Cook; Worth Dying For: Canada's Mission to Train Police in the World's Failed States, by Terry Gould; Dispatches from the Front: The Life of Matthew Halton, Canada's Voice of War, by David Halton; The Morning After: The 1995 Quebec Referendum and the Day That Almost Was, by Chantal Hébert; and Our Ice Is Vanishing: A History of Inuit, Newcomers and Climate Change, by Shelley Wright. The $10,000 prize will be presented in May.

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An East Coast music star, the creator of Little Mosque on the Prairie and a former winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour are among the contenders for this year's Leacock, to be announced April 30.

The shortlist includes Great Big Sea's Alan Doyle for his memoir Where I Belong; Zarqa Nawaz, for her memoir Laughing All the Way to the Mosque; and Terry Fallis, for his novel No Relation, the story of a writer named Earnest Hemmingway who starts a support group for people with famous names. Fallis won the 2008 Leacock for Best Laid Plans, later made into a CBC made-for-TV movie.

Also on the short list for the $15,000 prize: Winnipeg-born B.C. playwright Aaron Bushkowsky for his novel Curtains for Roy, the story of a playwright and a terminally ill director on a B.C. wine-tasting tour, and Robert Wringham for his collection of essays A Loose Egg.

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The recently announced Manitoba Book Awards short lists were cause for celebration for two Manitoba publishers that scooped up 17 nominations between them.

Five Turnstone Press books earned nine nominations in total, while scholarly publisher University of Manitoba Press picked up eight nods overall for five titles.

The new Rebelight Publishing had two of its books shortlisted in the McNally Robinson Books for Young People category in the company's first year of eligibility for the awards.

For a full list of nominated titles, see manitobabookawards.com. The awards will be presented April 25 at a ceremony at the Marlborough Hotel's Skyview Ballroom.

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Toronto literacy advocates are alarmed by a cost-cutting move at the Toronto Catholic School Board, which announced it's eliminating teacher-librarians at elementary schools.

Facing a $42-million budget shortfall, the school board cut more than 40 teacher-librarian positions at elementary schools. The Toronto Star reports that the Ontario Library Association has responded by writing to the school board with research showing access to teacher-librarians boosts scores in standardized reading tests.

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A Canadian novel about a Boy Scout adventure gone horribly wrong has won the inaugural James Herbert Award for Horror Writing.

The Troop, by Craig Davidson (under the name Nick Cutter), tells the story of boy scouts who encounter the emaciated human carrier of a bioengineered horror. Prize judge Kerry Herbert, daughter of the late James Herbert, said "My father would have chuckled in his chair... And you'll never go camping again."

The new award, worth about $3,750, is named for the bestselling British author of two dozen horror novels, including The Rats and The Fog, whom Stephen King compared to Mike Tyson for the "crude power" of his thrills.

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