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2003 Oklahoma Book Award Finalists

Oklahoma Book AwardAward Winners are marked with an Oklahoma Book Award graphic.


Cherokee—Photography by David Fitzgerald—Graphic Arts Center Publishing, Portland, OR
This is the first large-format photo-essay book about the Cherokee people’s history and culture. Fitzgerald’s photographs, which capture the diversity and common values of his subjects, were shown in a Smithsonian exhibition, Cherokee: A Portrait of a People. The Oklahoma City native received the 1999 Oklahoma Book Award in this category for Bison: Monarch of the Plains.

Andiamo, Weasel!—Illustrated by Jon Goodell—Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY
Goodell earned his degree in fine arts from the University of Oklahoma and has worked as an illustrator ever since. His paintings of the gorgeous Tuscan landscape grace this trickster tale about a weasly weasel who takes advantage of an industrious crow. In righting the wrong, the crow discovers she may be piccola in size, but she is grande in spirit.

Award Winner signifier

The Great Ball Game of the Birds and Animals—Drawings by Murv Jacob—University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM
Jacob is an award-winning artist and pipe maker who makes his home in Tahlequah. This marks the fourth time he has been honored as an Oklahoma Book Award finalist in design and illustration. The Great Ball Game is inspired by an ancient Cherokee story about courage, creativity and determination. Jacob’s drawings bring the characters of this legend to life for a new generation of children.

Will Rogers—Illustrated by Mike Wimmer—Silver Whistle / Harcourt, Inc., San Diego, CA
Norman’s Michael Wimmer received the 1995 Oklahoma Book Award in design/illustration for All the Places to Love, and his book Home Run: The Story of Babe Ruth was named a Notable Children’s Book by the American Library Association. For Will Rogers, Wimmer’s illustrations capture the state’s favorite son from his boyhood days in Oklahoma to his role as a citizen of the world.


Reconstructing the Dreamland: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921Alfred L. Brophy—Oxford University Press, New York, NY
Drawn on extensive contemporary accounts and court documents, Brophy offers a gut-wrenching portrait of mob violence and racism. In addition to the revelations and stark narrative of the events of 1921, Brophy also considers the case surrounding reparations for the victims of the riot and the implications for other reparations movements, including those for slavery. Brophy, who contributed to the report to the Tulsa Race Riot Commission, is professor of law at the University of Alabama.

Outlaw Woman: Memoir of the War Years, 1960-1975Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz—City Lights Books, San Francisco, CA
A dedicated activist and one of the founders of the early women’s liberation movement, Dunbar-Ortiz tells about her decades of involvement with Students for a Democratic Society, the Weather Underground, the Revolutionary Union, the African National Congress, among other groups and causes. Through a working-class, feminist lens, this is a fascinating view of one of the most extraordinary times in U.S. history. Dunbar-Ortiz is professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies at California State University, Hayward. She grew up in Piedmont.

Te Ata: Chickasaw Storyteller, American TreasureRichard Green—University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK
Set against the historical, political, economic, and social upheavals of the Dawes allotment program, Green, tribal historian for the Chickasaw Nation, recounts the life of Te Ata. From her early life in Tishomingo to her performances before European royalty and across the Americas, Te Ata’s special talent for collecting, adapting, and performing the stories of her Chickasaw family is displayed through personal papers, memorabilia, letters and photographs.

An American Cycling Odyssey, 1887Kevin J. Hayes—University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE
Described as “an entertaining, informative, and well-written romp across late-nineteenth-century America,” Hayes meticulously compiled this fascinating account of a cross-country bicycle ride. Accomplished by newspaperman George Nellis (1965-1948), the trip was re-constructed using Nellis’ letters and media coverage about his journey. Presented in compelling detail, the reader gains a close-up view of America and Americans of the time. Hayes is professor of English at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.

Riot and Remembrance: The Tulsa Race War and its LegacyJames S. Hirsch—Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA
Hirsch has produced an extensive investigation into the causes of the race riot, including what he has called de facto apartheid, and the legacy the riot has left during the past eight decades. Tracing how the memory of the riot gradually revived through the work of academics and ordinary citizens of all colors, Hirsch addresses the ironies in today’s battles about affirmative action and reparations. Hirsch is a former staff reporter for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal; he lives in the Boston area.

Award Winner signifierA Desert Calling: Life in a Forbidding LandscapeMichael A. Mares—Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA
Hostile habitats can reveal remarkable behavioral, physiological, and ecological adaptations to field observers with fortitude enough to struggle through the perils and pitfalls awaiting them. Deserts denote barren wasteland, but Mares, while revealing intimately the biologist’s life in the field, presents his life-filled findings from the deserts of Argentina, Iran, Egypt, and the American Southwest. The driving force in the establishment of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History at the University of Oklahoma, and its former director, Mares serves as the museum’s curator of mammals.

Prayer on Top of the Earth: The Spiritual Universe of the Plains ApachesKay Parker Schweinfurth—University Press of Colorado, Boulder, CO
The important ethnographic information about the Plains Apaches is preserved in this work about the spiritual lives of the tribe. From the U.S. Government ban on native religions, to the arrival of the evangelicals, to the birth of the peyote religion, this work reveals the Apaches’ spiritual challenges, in part, through the eyes of the last surviving primary repositories of Apache history. Schweinfurth is a native Oklahoman and a research anthropologist.

Backyard Brawl: Inside the Blood Feud Between Texas and Texas A&MW.K. Stratton—Crown Publishers, New York, NY
This historic football and cultural rivalry, once postponed because the fans were just too violent, is chronicled in vivid detail. In ethnographic style, Stratton describes the cultural divide, capturing the color and deeper significance of this game by victories and defeats, triumph and tragedy. Stratton, who was raised in Oklahoma, writes for the Dallas Morning News and has contributed to many national magazines.

Blood Politics: Race, Culture, and Identity in the Cherokee Nation of OklahomaCirce Sturm—University of California Press, Berkeley, CA
This insightful analysis probes the intersection of race and national identity. Sturm considers the social and political construction of Cherokee identity, as well as the blood connections to the tribe. Combining contemporary ethnography with ethnohistory, the meanings and significance of race and identity are considered, along with the dangers of linking them. Strum is assistant professor of anthropology and Native American studies at the University of Oklahoma.

What Color is a Conservative? My Life and My PoliticsJ.C. Watts Jr. with Chris Winston—Harper Collins, New York, NY
A former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Watts relates the stories of his early life in Awfully, his years as an Oklahoma Sooner quarterback, his years in politics, and his decision to retire. The first black Republican elected to Congress from a southern state since Reconstruction, Watts, in straight talk, shares his perspectives about the nation’s parties and politics.


ContradictionsAlfred Corn—Copper Canyon Press, Port Townsend, WA
In his ninth book of poems, Corn explores multiple and often opposing viewpoints to illuminate objects, places and ideas. Corn was raised in Georgia and earned degrees from Emory and Columbia University. He is a visiting professor at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, and held the 2001-2002 Bell Chair at the University of Tulsa.

Award Winner signifierHow We Became Human: New and Selected PoemsJoy Hairdo—W.W. Norton & Company, New York, NY
This collection offers a selection of Joy Hairdo’s body of work, including new poetry written within the past four years, as well as author commentary on the individual poems. Hairdo received the 1995 Oklahoma Book Award in Poetry for The Woman Who Fell from the Sky. She is tonight’s recipient of the Oklahoma Center for the Book’s Areal Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Book of JadeBun Bang—Story Line Press, Ashland, OR
This work was selected from 900 entries to receive the 15th Annual Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize. Yun Wang employs the heart of a poet and the mind of a scientist to plot the hidden meanings in experiences both personal and universal, horrifying and beautiful. She was born in a small town in Southwest China in 1964 and came to the United States to study physics in 1985. She is an assistant professor specializing in theoretical cosmology at the University of Oklahoma.


Award Winner signifierThe Babbs Switch StoryDarleen Bailey Beard—Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York, NY
Babbs Switch, Oklahoma was a real town, and a thriving community until a fire in its one-room schoolhouse claimed the lives of thirty-six people on Christmas Eve, 1924. Based on this true story that made national headlines, Bailey Beard’s novel is also filled with warmth and humor, and told in the sparkling voice of a spunky, irreverent heroine. The author is a frequent speaker to young people, and lives in Norman with her two children, Spencer and Karalee.

Tulsa BurningAnna Myers—Walker and Company, New York, NY
While there have been many articles and books in recent years on the tragedy of the 1921 race riot in Tulsa, Myers wanted to add a book for young people to that list, because “it is the young who must learn from mistakes made by earlier generations.” Author of eleven books for young people, Myers is a two-time winner of the Oklahoma Book Award in the Children/Young Adult Category. She won in 1993 for Red Dirt Jessie and in 1996 for Graveyard Girl. She has recently moved to Tulsa.

GoosedBill Wallace—Holiday House, New York, NY
When his owners receive a mysterious box, T.P. the dog decides to investigate. T.P. does not know how to react to a new … puppy. A prolific writer, Wallace has written or co-written 25 novels for young people and won numerous awards. He received the 2000 Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book. A former elementary teacher and principal, he and his wife Carol, also a writer, live in Chickasha.

WingwalkerRosemary Wells—Hyperion Books for Children, New York, NY
Wingwalker takes us back to a small town in Oklahoma shortly after the droughts of the Dust Bowl. Second-grader Reuben’s secure life has vanished, and he needs a measure of love and courage. Wells shows us a lost America, of small farms and county fairs where men and women danced on the wings of planes for a few dollars. A versatile author, Wells is renowned for her outstanding picture books. She lives in Westchester County, New York.


Criminal IntentWilliam Bernhardt—Ballantine Books, New York, NY
Tulsa attorney Ben Kincaid is back in action, this time defending a priest with renegade views and a violent temper. Bernhardt, an attorney himself, is often called “the master of the courtroom drama.” The author of fifteen books, he has twice won the Oklahoma Book Award in the Fiction category: in 1995 for Perfect Justice, and in 2000 for Dark Justice. He lives in Tulsa with his wife Kirsten, and their children, Harry, Alice, and Ralph.

Award Winner signifierThe Mask Maker: A NovelDiane Glancy—University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK
Edith Lewis, a recently divorced mixed-blood American Indian, travels Oklahoma teaching students the custom of mask making. As Edith works to reach students on an intuitive, creative level, she confronts her own questions about identify and meaning. Glancy was, herself, an artist-in-residence for the Oklahoma State Arts Council. Today, she is a Professor of English at Macalester College in Minnesota. She has been a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award in the poetry, fiction, and non-fiction categories.

The Wailing WindTony Hillerman—Harper Collins, New York, NY
The recipient of the Oklahoma Center for the Book’s Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991, Hillerman is also Past President of the Mystery Writers of America and has received its Edgar and Grand Master Awards. Other honors include the Navajo Tribe’s Special Friend Award. In The Wailing Wind, he combines knowledge of Navajo country and traditions with his mystery writing skills. He and his wife Marie live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Shell ShakerLeAnne Howe—Aunt Lute Books, San Francisco, CA
Two murders, separated by more than two centuries, form the framework for this story about the strength of love, family, culture and heritage. It is the destiny of the women in a Choctaw family to solve both murders with the help of the Shell Shaker, a powerful spirit and a peacemaker of the Choctaw people. A fiction writer, playwright, scholar and poet, Howe is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. She currently lives in Ohio.

Oblivion’s AltarDavid Marion Wilkinson—New American Library/Penguin Putnam, New York, NY
Once a respected warrior, the great Cherokee chieftain known as the Ridge was later considered a traitor, hunted down by his own tribe. Based on historical events, Wilkinson’s novel details the Ridge’s contribution to the survival of the Cherokee Nation, a contribution that would be forgotten on the infamous Trail of Tears. Wilkinson is an award-winning author who lives in Austin with his wife and two sons.


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. It is governed by a volunteer board of directors from across the state.

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 more 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 505-522-3383.



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