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The Oklahoma
Center for the Book

Oklahoma Dept. of
200 NE 18th St
Oklahoma City, OK 73105-3298

(405) 521-2502
(405) 525-7804—FAX

Connie Armstrong,
OCB director

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2000 Oklahoma Book Award Winners


More than 250 people attended the tenth annual Oklahoma Book Awards on March 11, 2000. The ceremony was held at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City.

The awards program is sponsored by the Oklahoma Center For the Book in the Department of Libraries. Books published during 1999 and written by Oklahomans or about Oklahoma were eligible to enter the 2000 competition.

Design and Illustration

The award in the design and illustration category was presented to Carol Haralson for Glory Days of Summer: The History of Baseball in Oklahoma. This comprehensive volume has hundreds of photos and articles about the great ball players who passed through Oklahoma. According to the book's writers Burke, Franks, and Parr, designer Haralson "took stacks of printed word and hundreds of photos and created a masterpiece." A former Tulsa resident (who now lives in Sedona, Arizona), Haralson has now won the Oklahoma Book Award for Design/Illustration a record five times.


William Bernhardt was presented the award in the fiction category for Dark Justice. With the seventh book in the “Justice” Series, Bernhardt has drawn acclaim as “a master of the courtroom drama.” Bernhardt has received awards both as an attorney and as an author. In 1993, he was named one of the top twenty-five young lawyers in the nation. He has been an Oklahoma Book Award finalist seven times, winning in 1995 for Perfect Justice. Bernhardt, wife Kirsten, and their children Harry and Alice live in Tulsa.


Non-fiction winner was Michael Wallis, Tulsa, for The Real Wild West: The 101 Ranch and the Creation of the American West. “The enthralling history of one of the wildest ranch empires of the American frontier and the birth of the western motion picture industry,” Wallis’ work was 10 years in the making. It is “nothing less than a sweeping history of the West of myth and reality.” This work chronicles the life of Col. George Washington Miller, founder of the 101 Ranch. The book follows Miller’s migration from Kentucky through Missouri and Kansas, and into the Cherokee Outlet, where he located the world-famous ranch on the banks of the Salt Fork of the Arkansas River, near Ponca City. Wallis, who lives in Tulsa, is an award-winning historian of the West, and recipient of the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.

Children and Young Adult

The late Harold Keith was honored with the Oklahoma Book Award in the children and young adult category for Brief Garland: Ponytails, Basketball, and Nothing But Net. This is a story about a man, Coach Jim, forced to coach a girls’ athletic team in Oklahoma, only to find that “he loves it and never wants to coach boys’ athletics again.” Coach Jim is the nephew of the late Harold Keith. Keith, who won the 1958 Newbery Medal for Rifles for Watie, was recipient of the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993.


Winner of the poetry competition, N.Scott Momaday is known for his unique connection to the beauty and spirituality of the natural world. In the Bear's House reflects his intensely personal quest to understand the spirit of the wilderness embodied in the animal image of Bear. The winner of the Pulitzer Prize for House Made of Dawn, Momaday received the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994.

Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award

In addition to the five categories listed, the board of directors of the Oklahoma Center for the Book selects one person each year to be honored for a body of work. This award, the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award, was named for the Norman, Oklahoma, historian who served as the first president of the Oklahoma Center for the Book.

The 2000 recipient was Bill Wallace of Chickasha, Oklahoma. Born in Chickasha in 1947, he started out his working life as a teacher. In 1971, after graduating with a degree in elementary education, Wallace began teaching school in his hometown. He taught kindergarten and fourth grade classes. After earning a Masters degree in Elementary Administration, Wallace served as an assistant principal, and eventually as principal of West Elementary in Chickasha. Along the way, Wallace studied professional writing with William Foster-Harris and Dwight Swain at the University of Oklahoma.

Bill Wallace with young readerA prolific writer, Bill Wallace has written or co-written 25 novels for young people. With titles like The Biggest Klutz in Fifth Grade, The Great Escape (Upchuck and the Rotten Willy), and Snot Stew, his books have been popular from the beginning.

In 1983, Wallace received the Oklahoma Sequoyah Children’s Book Award for his book A Dog Called Kitty. The novel written for young people went on to win the Texas Bluebonnet Award in 1983, and the Nebraska Golden Sower Award in 1985. Over the years, Wallace has received writing awards from seventeen different states, including a second Sequoyah award in 1991 for Beauty. Watchdog and the Coyotes was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award in 1996, and Aloha Summer was a finalist in 1998.

In 1988, Wallace intended to take one year off from teaching—he never returned. Instead, he began a new career as an extremely popular speaker in schools and at conferences throughout the United States. Teachers, librarians, and grandparents appreciate his candor and openness. Children seem to respond to his obvious enthusiasm for story telling and writing.

His wife Carol, also a former elementary schoolteacher, has co-authored with Wallace The Flying Flea, Callie and Me and That Furball Puppy and Me. The Wallaces have three children and two granddaughters. Daughter Nikki Wallace is author of Stubby and the Puppy Pack.

Ralph Ellison Award

From time to time the Ralph Ellison Award, posthumously honoring an Oklahoma writer, is also presented. The award is named for Ellison, the first recipient, who was honored in 1995. A plaque is displayed at the Ralph Ellison Library in Oklahoma City bearing the names of each recipient.

The 2000 Ralph Ellison Award winner is Jim Thompson. Born September 27, 1906, Anadarko native James Meyers Thompson used his experience—growing up in the Depression, working the Texas oil fields, gambling, and drinking—to become renowned as one of this country’s finest pulp novelists.

Thompson found an original voice in the crime genre. The darkness of his vision quickly set him apart from others in the field. Possibly Thompson’s best known novel–The Killer Inside Me–is the story of a doomed small-town sheriff unable to control his blood lust as circumstances compel him to kill and kill again. Thompson authored no fewer than 29 novels. A number of his books have been made (and remade) into movies, including The Killer Inside Me, The Getaway, Coup de Torchon (based on Thompson’s Pop. 1280), The Grifters, and After Dark, My Sweet.

Known as a journalist, as well as fiction writer, Thompson directed the Federal Writers Project in Oklahoma during the 1930s, and later worked for the New York Daily News and Los Angeles Times Mirror.

In the mid-fifties, Thompson began working in Hollywood. He worked with Stanley Kubrick on screenplays for two of the director’s seminal films, The Killing and Paths of Glory. Despite a promising beginning, Thompson’s remaining film career was marked by unproduced screenplays, and some writing for undistinguished television series. These years were marred by alcoholism and chronicled in his works The Alcoholics and Bad Boy.

When he died April 7, 1977, at the age of 71, none of Thompson’s novels remained in-print in this country. However, critical opinion of his novels has grown steadily since his death. Today, Jim Thompson’s work is considered alongside that of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and James M. Cain—writing that transcends genre.

To see complete list of 2000 Oklahoma Book Award Finalists go here.


The Oklahoma Center for the Book, sponsor of the Oklahoma Book Award competition, is a non-profit, 501-c-3 organization located in the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. Established in 1986 as an outreach program of the Library of Congress, the Oklahoma Center was the fourth such state center formed. In attendance at the awards ceremony was special guest, Maurvene Williams, program director in the Library of Congress Center for the Book in Washington, D.C.

The mission of the Oklahoma Center for the Book is
to promote the work of Oklahoma authors,
to promote the literary heritage of the state, and
to encourage reading for pleasure by Oklahomans of all ages.

For further information about the Oklahoma Center for the Book or the Oklahoma Book Award program, contact Connie Armstrong, 200 N.E. 18th Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 73105; or call 1-800-522-8116 toll free, statewide. In the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, call 522-3383.


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