2008 Atlantic Book Awards Shortlist

2008 Shortlist, Atlantic Book Awards

Winner! Beaverbrook: A Shattered Legacy
by Jacques Poitras (Goose Lane Editions)

2008 Booksellers’ Choice Award
2008 Best Atlantic Published Book Award

The very public battle over the ownership of millions of dollars worth of paintings at Fredericton’s Beaverbrook Art Gallery has had all the makings of best-selling pulp fiction—money, aristocracy, sex, family laundry, and court intrigue. It’s a story that might have appeared on the front pages published by its protagonist, press baron Max Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook.

In this fascinating account, Jacques Poitras explores the intertwined history of the Aitken family and the Beaverbrook Gallery. A Shattered Legacy underscores the sea-change that has occurred between the gallery’s founding—when Beaverbrook could command obedience and obsequiousness from his fellow New Brunswickers—and today, when heirs joust with an independent and proud public institution.

Jacques Poitras has been CBC Radio’s provincial affairs reporter in New Brunswick since 2000. He has written numerous award-winning feature documentaries and has appeared on Radio-Canada, National Public Radio, and the BBC. His first book was the critically acclaimed The Right Fight: Bernard Lord and the Conservative Dilemma. He lives near Fredericton.

Author photo by Tonë Meeg

Gracie, The Public Gardens Duck
illustrated by Richard Rudnicki,
written by Judith Meyrick (Nimbus Publishing)

2008 Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration

Gracie has an idyllic life in Halifax’s Public Gardens. What delicious treats to savour from visitors to the park—muffins, popcorn, peanut butter sandwiches. Gracie loves the attention, the visitors, but especially Gracie loves the food. Suddenly, Gracie’s favourite people stop bringing treats. Why won’t they share their lunch? Aren’t they worried she’ll starve? Despite her best efforts, Gracie is reduced to, well, duck food. And despite herself, she starts to enjoy it. Gracie, The Public Gardens Duck is the funny and sweet saga of a hungry duck’s discovery that she can survive just fine without people food.

Richard Rudnicki began drawing at a very young age, went on to study fine art and graphic design and, as an idealistic youth, became a resident artist with CUSO. A short time later he started a graphic design firm, which grew into a successful company. In 1994 he sold his business to return to drawing and painting, becoming a full-time visual artist. Richard lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Homing: the whole story (from the inside out)
by Stephanie Domet (Invisible Publishing)

2008 Margaret and John Savage First Book Award

Leah is haunted. By the things she’s done, by the things she should have done, and by the ghost of her brother. She has to learn to let go of the past if she, or her brother, are ever going to move on. A funny, urban love story, Homing is about a woman who’s grown afraid of the outdoors, a ghost that’s lost its way, a musician who’s trying to find his, and Sandy and Harold, a pair of homing pigeons that help bring it all back home.

Stephanie Domet is a writer-broadcaster who lives in Halifax. She owns a baby grand piano, a guitar, and two harmonicas. She doesn’t play any of them, but if you happen to drop by her place, you’d be welcome to. You may have heard her on CBC Radio, read her work in the Halifax Daily News, The Coast, or Halifax Magazine, or seen her in the 2005 Atlantic Fringe Festival performing her one-woman show, Cogswell!, or at the Atlantic Film Festival, appearing in a film of the same name. She has worked as a mall mascot, in a balloon factory, as a graveyard shift pastry chef and in many, many diners and bookstores. She vastly prefers writing books to just about anything else she’s done.

Where White Horses Gallop
by Beatrice MacNeil (Key Porter Books)

2008 Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction

It is 1939. England has declared war on Germany, and Canada will march beside her. Soon the lives of five young friends living in rugged, pristine Cape Breton will be changed forever. Fiddler Benny Doucet, prospective med student Calum MacPherson, and fisherman Hector MacDonald all decide to enlist. But Calum’s handicapped brother Hamish is stuck at home, while Alex MacGregor, in love with the postmistress, hides in his mother’s attic. The fate of these devoted friends, during and after the war, hinges on forces beyond their control in this lyrical, vibrant novel.

Beatrice MacNeil is the author of the novel Butterflies Dance in the Dark, and the story collection, The Moonlight Skater, both winners of the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction. Her picture book, There is a Mouse in the House of Miss Crouse, won the Marianna Dempster Award. She has written ten plays, four of which have won awards, and two of which have been adapted for CBC Radio. She is the recipient of the Tic Butler Award for her outstanding contribution to Cape Breton writing and culture, and is the founder of Cape Breton’s Reading Ceilidhs. She lives in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Witch in the Wind: The True Story of the Legendary Bluenose
by Marq de Villiers (Thomas Allen & Son)

2008 Dartmouth Book Award for Non-Fiction
(2008 Evelyn Richardson Prize for Non-Fiction)

Witch in the Wind is a fascinating journey into the back story of a remarkable vessel. She was a superb boat that emerged from a long boat-building tradition where skilled tradesmen built many wonderful vessels, and she was skippered by an exceptional sailor at a time flush with some of the most accomplished sailors in the world. De Villiers explores everything from the behind-the-scenes drama of her construction, to her hardscrabble existence as a fishing vessel, to her breathtaking races at a time when a shift was happening and a way of life was fast disappearing.

Born in South Africa, Marq de Villiers is a veteran Canadian journalist and the author of eight books, including Windswept: The Story of Wind and Weather, Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource (winner of the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction), Down the Volga in a Time of Troubles, and co-author (with Sheila Hirtle) of Into Africa: A Journey Through the Ancient Empires and A Dune Adrift: The Strange Origins and Curious History of Sable Island, winner of the 2005 Evelyn Richardson Award. He has worked as a foreign correspondent in Moscow and through Eastern Europe, and spent many years as editor and then publisher of Toronto Life magazine. Most recently, he was editorial director of WHERE Magazines International.

author photo by Paul Orenstein