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The Oklahoma
Center for the Book

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

(405) 521-2502
(405) 525-7804—FAX

Questions
Comments:
Connie Armstrong,
OCB director

 
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2001 Oklahoma Book Award Winners
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One hundred and ninety-seven people attended the book award ceremony March 10th at the Petroleum Club in Oklahoma City. Twenty-eight finalists attended and signed books before and after the ceremony.

The awards program is sponsored by the Oklahoma Center For the Book in the Department of Libraries. Books published during 2000 and written by Oklahomans or about Oklahoma were eligible to enter the 2001 competition.

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.

Julie Hovis & Kathy Kinasewitz, owners of Edmond's Best of Books, were honored with the 2001 Distinguished Service Award, in recognition of their service to the Oklahoma Center for the Book. Hovis and Kinasewitz have been true supporters of the Center, serving as board members, and helping with numerous projects.

Children and Young Adult


Joyce Carol Thomas was honored with the Oklahoma Book Award in the children and young adult category for Hush Songs. Thomas, originally from Ponca City, now lives in California. She is known for writing books for the whole family: adults, children, and even toddlers. This is a collection of ten African American lullabies. Thomas also received the 2001 Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award this evening.

Poetry


Winner of the poetry competition, Carolyne Wright has received awards for her writing from the Poetry Society of America and the New York State Council on the Arts. Seasons of Mangoes and Brainfire was the winner of the Blue Lynx Prize. Wright is a creative writing professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, Edmond.

Fiction


Fiction winner was Sugarplum Dead by Carolyn Hart. An accomplished master of mystery, Hart is the author of twelve Death on Demand novels, which have won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity awards. She is also the creator of the highly praised Henri O series. One of the founders of Sisters in Crime, a national mystery writers' group, Hart lives in Oklahoma City.

Design and Illustration


The recipient of the Design/illustration award was Lane Smith, New York, the illustrator for The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip. He has illustrated several number-one best-sellers including The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs, and James and the Giant Peach. Twice he won the New York Times' Best Illustrated Book of the Year award and in 1993 he received a Caldecott Honor. Smith was born in Tulsa, and his parents live in Sapulpa.

Non-Fiction


David LaVere's book Contrary Neighbors: Southern Plains and Removed Indians in Indian Territory won the Non-Fiction award. The book examines the relations between Southeastern Indians who were removed to Indian Territory in the early nineteenth century and Southern Plains Indians who claimed this territory as their own. LaVere is associate professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

 

photo of Award Winning Authors
Award Winners (left to right)—Joyce Carol Thomas, Carolyn Hart, David LaVere, Carolyne Wright, and Millie Smith, mother of Lane Smith

 

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 2001 recipient was Joyce Carol Thomas. Joyce Carol Thomas was born in Ponca City, Oklahoma, on May 25, 1938. At ten years of age, the family moved to California, but Thomas never forgot her Oklahoma background.

Known for her poetry, playwriting, and novels—especially for children and young adults—her books resonate with the language, and rhythms of Oklahoma. Her work evokes a childhood when she made up songs, stories, and poems and shared them with her family and playmates.

photo of Joyce Carol Thomas with Maureen Sullivan of Hyperion Books
Joyce Carol Thomas (right) with Maureen Sullivan, Senior Editor at Hyperion Books

Presently living in California, Thomas has returned to her birthplace through much of her writing. Oklahoma is the setting for her novels Marked By Fire, Bright Shadow, and The Golden Pasture. Her poetry books, I Have Heard Of A Land, Brown Honey In Broomwheat Tea, and Gingerbread Days, are infused with prairie sensibility.

Thomas received the National Book Award for her first novel Marked by Fire; that book was also voted the best book for young adults by the New York Times in 1983. Her first illustrated book, Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea, won a Coretta Scott King Award.

On November 19, 1998, Governor Frank Keating presented Thomas with the Governor's Award, and she has received citations from both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate.

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.

There was no award given in 2001.

To see complete list of 2001 Oklahoma Book Award Finalists go here.

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The Oklahoma Center for the Book, sponsor of the Oklahoma Book Award competition, is a nonprofit, 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.

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 NE 18th Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 73105; call 405-522-3383.

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