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2004 Oklahoma Book Award Finalists

Oklahoma Book AwardWinners are marked with an Oklahoma Book Award graphic.


Book Award logo indicating this year's winner
Winner for Young Adult

The Painters of LexievilleSharon Darrow—Candlewick Press, Cambridge, MA
For this harrowing coming-of-age story, Oklahoma native Darrow drew on her experience of working in an Arkansas county welfare department. The tale of determination and empowerment is told from the point of view of the heroine, Pert, as well as that of her brother, Jobe, and mother, Truly. This is Darrow’s first novel for young adults. She has written several books for children. She lives in Chicago with her three daughters.

The Great American Bunion DerbyMolly Levite Griffis—Eakin Press, Austin, TX
Did you know a Sooner was crowned the best long distance runner in the world in 1928? Griffis’s book is the inspiring story of Andy Payne, the “Cherokee Kid” who ran 3,000 miles between Los Angeles and New York to win the first International Trans-Continental Foot Race. Griffis expresses her appreciation to Jim Ross for the “mounds of research” provided for this book. Griffis has written five books for children. Three have now been Book Award finalists. She received the Oklahoma Book Award in 2002 for The Rachel Resistance.

Flying BlindAnna Myers—Walker & Company, New York, NY
Two-time Oklahoma Book Award winner Anna Myers spins an unusual tale based on a real life environmental crisis. At the turn of the twentieth century, millions of birds were being slaughtered in Florida so that their feathers could be used to make fashionable hats. In Flying Blind, a father, son, and clairvoyant pet macaw take their traveling medicine show to the Everglades. The son faces a moral dilemma when he befriends two orphans who depend on feathering to stay alive.

S is for Sooner: An Oklahoma AlphabetDevin Scillian—Sleeping Bear Press, Chelsea, MI
“E” is for Enid and Elk City and El Reno and Edmond and Eskimo Joe’s and evening at Lake Eufaula. Scillian’s book is a celebration of Oklahoma “A” to “Z.” Author, journalist, and musician Devin Scillian grew up all over the world, but considers Oklahoma home. He is former anchor for KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City, and author of the national best-seller A is for America: An American Alphabet.


Book Award logo indicating this year's winner
Winner for Children

Grady’s in the SiloUna Belle Townsend—Pelican Publishing Company, Inc., Gretna, LA
How would someone squeeze a 1,200-pound cow out of a silo? That’s the problem Townsend solves in this book, which is based on a true story that happened in her hometown of Yukon, Oklahoma in 1949. Sick and upset, Grady the cow tries to escape after the vet gives her a shot, only to end up stuck in her farm family’s silo. People from across the country and around the world are all too happy to give their advice on how to rescue Grady. Townsend has been an elementary school teacher for nearly 20 years.

Bone Head: Story of the LonghornDesiree Morrison Webber—Eakin Press, Austin, TX
Webber was a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award in 2000 for The Buffalo Train Ride, the story of how the American Bison was saved from extinction. Webber now turns her attention to the Longhorn, a species of cattle that played a unique role in the history of America. Indeed, as Webber explains, if not for these creatures, we may never have had the cowboy, trail drives, or the Wild West! Webber is Director of the Mustang Public Library.


Art Treasures of the Oklahoma State Capitol—Designed by Carol Haralson—Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc.
The last decade has been kind to the grand State Capitol. Architectural restorations, the additions of new artwork, and the soaring new dome have enhanced this historic building. The establishment of the State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, through the leadership of Senator Charles Ford, means more art is destined for the halls of state government. Haralson has received a record five Oklahoma Book Awards. Her design for this work showcases the diverse murals, paintings and sculptures currently on display at the capitol, and provides a sneak peak at some projects in the works.


Book Award logo indicating this year's winner
Winner for Design

Family Album: A Centennial Pictorial of the Oklahoma Publishing Company—Designed by Scott Horton; Chief Photographer, Jim Argo—The Oklahoma Publishing Company, Oklahoma City, OK
This book is one of two finalists that commemorate OPUBCO’s centennial. Family Album is already a collector’s item since the company printed only enough copies for distribution to employees, families, and friends. Horton employs an intimate photo scrapbook design to pay tribute to the many Oklahomans who have worked for OPUBCO, highlighting pictures from the vaults as well as modern photographs.

How Medicine Came to the People and How Rabbit Lost His Tail—Drawings by Murv Jacob—University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, NM
These two titles mark the fifth and sixth times Jacob has been honored as a Book Award finalist in Design/Illustration. He won the Oklahoma Book Award last year for The Great Ball Game of the Birds and Animals, a retelling of a traditional Cherokee tale. Once again, Jacob has collaborated with author Deborah Duvall to bring two more Cherokee stories to life for children today.

Book Award logo indicating this year's winner
Winner for Illustration

S is for Sooner—Illustrated by Kandy Radzinski—Sleeping Bear Press, Chelsea, MI
Radzinski’s art has been described as “quirky realism.” She has taught art at Central Washington State College and the University of Tulsa, and has illustrated children’s books, posters, greeting cards, and even a six-foot penguin. She won the Oklahoma Book Award in 1993 for The Twelve Cats of Christmas. She lives in Tulsa with her husband, son, and two Scottie dogs.


The Oklahoma Publishing Company’s First Century: The Gaylord Family Story—Designed by Jeff Wincapaw—The Oklahoma Publishing Company, Oklahoma City, OK
Seattle designer Wincapaw helps bring author David Dary’s OPUBCO history to life with historic photos, notable editorial cartoons, and reproductions of Daily Oklahoman front pages from throughout the company’s 100 years of existence.


Death RowWilliam Bernhardt—Ballantine Books, New York, NY
This “master of the courtroom drama” (Library Journal) returns with another legal thriller featuring crusading Oklahoma attorney Ben Kincaid. This time around, Ben must save an innocent man from execution. Bernhardt is a two-time winner of the Oklahoma Book Award in fiction. He is a former trial attorney who has received a number of awards for his public service. He lives in Tulsa with his wife and three children.

Stone Heart: A Novel of SacajaweaDiane Glancy—The Overlook Press, Woodstock, NY
Glancy juxtaposes excerpts from Lewis and Clark’s diaries with those from an imagined journal kept by Sacajawea to retell the story of this legendary Shoshoni woman. Glancy won the Oklahoma Book Award in this category last year for The Mask Maker: A Novel. She is also a finalist in the Poetry category this year. She has received numerous other awards, including the American Book Award, the Pushcart Prize, and the Native American Indian Prose Award. She teaches at Macalester College in Minnesota.

Letter from HomeCarolyn Hart—Berkley Prime Crime, New York, NY
Oklahoma City’s Carolyn Hart has written more than 30 mystery novels, but this is the only one set in Oklahoma. Journalist G.G. Gilman receives a letter from home, which brings back memories of a sultry summer in a small Oklahoma town, when her life changed forever. Hart has won a slew of mystery awards, including the cream of the crop: the Agatha, the Anthony, and the Macavity. She is an Oklahoma Book Award winner for fiction, and is the 2004 Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

University BoulevardA.B. Hollingsworth—Clock Tower Press, Ann Arbor, MI
This sequel to the best-selling Flatbellies follows Chipper DeHart and Peachy Waterman as they maneuver college life in the late 1960s—a time when the John Wayne world of right and wrong is turned upside down in a tornado of social change. Flatbellies was also a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award. In addition to his new career as author, Hollingsworth is a breast cancer specialist. He serves as Medical Director for Mercy Women’s Center in Oklahoma City.

As Brown As I Want: The Indianhead DiariesJanelle Meraz Hooper—iUniverse, Lincoln, NE
Eight year-old Glory has a father who has taken out a $50,000 accidental death policy on her. Now he’s spending the summer trying to collect. This is Hooper’s self-described “fictional autobiography” of her childhood, growing up in Southwestern Oklahoma, and her second novel set in Oklahoma. Her short stories and commentaries have been published in books, magazines, and newspapers. She currently lives in Oregon.

The Greek SummerJohn Douglas Miller—iUniverse, Lincoln, NE
In this funny and thought-provoking coming-of-age story, five young lifeguards discover the Greek philosophers, and learn that the world of mind and ideas is far more fascinating than anything they have ever known. Dr. Miller received his Ph.D. from the Union Institute in Cincinnati. His past publications include A Footnote on Plato: An Introduction to Philosophy. He currently teaches philosophy at the University of Central Oklahoma, and lives in Edmond with his wife, Janelle.

Song of the BonesM.K. Preston—Intrigue Press, Denver, CO
Book Award logo indicating this year's winnerPreston’s first novel, Perhaps She’ll Die, was also an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, as well as a finalist for the Redmond Barry, Macavity, and Mary Higgins Clark Awards. This engaging second novel is also set in the fictional town of Tetumka, Oklahoma, where protagonist and amateur sleuth Chantalene Morrell becomes embroiled in a decades-old mystery. Preston lives in Edmond, where she edits and publishes ByLine, a nationally distributed trade magazine for writers.

This Raw, Red LandVoncille Shipley—iUniverse, Lincoln, NE
In Shipley’s first novel, a large family from Texas moves to Indian Territory to protect a son from the law and to start a new life. Death, murder, and punishment follow them to their new home. Shipley was raised in Healdton, a town near the area depicted in the novel. She and her husband John live an acreage where they raise pecans and hay.

Walking the Choctaw RoadTim Tingle—Cinco Puntos Press, El Paso, TX
In his Introduction, Tingle writes, “…the Trail of Tears lingers deep in the memory bank of every Choctaw. We have all heard the stories. In our minds and dreams, we have walked the frozen ground carrying our dead.” Although these stories depict tragedy and loss, they also represent triumph and survival. Tingle is a collector of Choctaw oral literature. He is the recipient of the 2003 John Henry Faulk Award for “outstanding contributions to the art of storytelling.”


Dictators, Democracy, and American Public Culture: Envisioning the Totalitarian Enemy, 1920s–1950s—Benjamin L. Alpers—University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC
Alpers focuses on U.S. films, magazine and newspaper articles, books, plays, speeches and other texts to trace America’s understanding of dictatorship from the late 1920s through the early years of the cold war. Alpers is Reach for Excellence Assistant Professor in the Honors College, and Assistant Professor of History and Film and Video Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Art Treasures of the Oklahoma State Capitol—Bob Burke, Betty Crow, and Sandy Meyers—Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund, Inc.
This official Oklahoma Centennial Project depicts and describes the more than 100 works of art on display in and around the State Capitol building. The Senate Historical Preservation Fund, founded through the leadership of Senator Charles Ford, was joined by the Oklahoma Arts Council, Oklahoma Heritage Association, Friends of the Capitol, and more than 36 other contributors to make this publication a reality. Burke received the Oklahoma Book Award in 1999 for From Oklahoma to Eternity: The Life of Wiley Post and the Winnie Mae. Crow is coauthor of The House Oklahoma Built: The History of the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion. Meyers’s goal for years has been to write a book about the art in the capitol and the contributions of Oklahoma Arts Council Director Betty Price.

A Dancing People: Powwow Culture on the Southern Plains—Clyde Ellis—University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Folklorist Barre Toelken describes the powwow as “one of the most rapidly growing expressions of ethnic awareness and identity to be found in the world today.” Ellis has written the first comprehensive history of Southern Plains powwow culture: from its history and traditions to the vital cultural force it is today in Indian country. Ellis himself has participated in powwow culture for the past two decades. He is Associate Professor of History at Elon University in North Carolina.

Taking Indian Lands: The Cherokee (Jerome) Commission, 1889–1893—William T. Hagan—University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK
The Cherokee Commission was formed to negotiate the purchase of huge acres of land from tribes in Indian Territory in order to “civilize” the Indians and speed their assimilation into American culture. The coerced sales opened 15 million acres to white settlement, making possible the state of Oklahoma at the expense of the tribes who had held claim to the land. Hagan is retired Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma, and the author of numerous books on American Indian subjects.

Machine Gun Kelly’s Last Stand—Stanley Hamilton—University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Machine Gun Kelly’s 1933 abduction of Oklahoma City oilman Charles Urschel (“arguably the shrewdest kidnap victim in American history”) sparked a chain of events that would have lasting significance on crime fighting in America. Hamilton’s cast of larger-than-life characters of the time includes the 38 year-old director of the national police force, J. Edgar Hoover. Hamilton is a freelance writer and former reporter for the Kansas City Star.

One Woman’s Political Journey: Kate Barnard and Social Reform, 1875–1930—Lynn Musslewhite and Suzanne Jones Crawford—University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK
Kate Barnard was a tireless crusader for the disadvantaged, becoming a spokesperson for child labor laws, compulsory school attendance, and a modern penal structure. In 1907, she became the first woman in the nation elected to a state post: Commissioner of Charities and Corrections. Musslewhite and Crawford detail Barnard’s life and work, including her political successes and failures. Musslewhite is Professor Emeritus of History at Cameron University in Lawton. Crawford is Professor of History at Cameron.

Oklahoma Tough: My Father, King of the Tulsa Bootleggers—Ron Padgett—University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK
Padgett draws on interviews, historical documents, police records and his own vivid memories to resurrect the father he never really knew. Wayne Padgett was a study in contrasts: charming and generous, and also one of the state’s most elusive bootleggers and career criminals. Poet Ron Padgett is the author of more than 20 books. He served as publications director of Teachers and Writers Collaborative from 1980 to 2000.

Book Award logo indicating this year's winnerLizards: Windows to the Evolution of Diversity—Eric R. Pianka and Laurie J. Vitt—University of California Press, Berkeley, CA
“The biology of lizards is a window through which we can peek at the evolutionary history of life,” Vitt writes in his introductory copy. Lizards is considered the first comprehensive reference book on lizards around the world. Pianka is Denton A. Cooley Centennial Professor of Zoology at the University of Texas. Vitt is Professor of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma and Curator of Reptiles at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.

Searching for Lost City: On the Trail of America’s Native Languages—Elizabeth Seay—Lyons Press, Guilford, CT
More than 100 Native American languages are quickly moving toward extinction. By the middle of this century, experts predict only twenty tribal languages may still be in use. What do we lose when a language disappears? That’s the question that fuels Seay’s narrative as she tracks down what is left of these languages in her home state of Oklahoma. Seay writes for the Wall Street Journal.

The Days We Danced: The Story of My Theatrical Family—Doris Eaton Travis with Joseph and Charles Eaton as told to J.R. Morris—University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK
At age 14, Doris Eaton Travis was a young Ziegfeld Follies dancer appearing with such legends as Will Rogers and Fanny Brice. Her sister Mary became a Ziegfeld star, and her brother Charles was a popular child actor. This book relates the remarkable successes and poignant sorrows of the theatrical Eatons, complete with period photographs and an Eaton Family show business chronology. Eaton Travis is still dancing at age 99, running a ranch in Norman. Morris is Provost Emeritus and Regents Professor Emeritus of the University of Oklahoma.

Around the Sacred Fire: Native Religious Activism in the Red Power Era—James Treat—Palgrave Macmillan, New York, NY
This is the first comprehensive study of the Indian Ecumenical Conference. Founded in 1969, the conference was an attempt at organizing grassroots spiritual leaders who were concerned about the conflict between tribal and Christian tradition. By the mid-seventies, thousands of people were gathering each summer to participate in weeklong encampments promoting spiritual revitalization and religious self-determination. Treat teaches in the Honors College at the University of Oklahoma.


Book Award logo indicating this year's winnerCrossing the Ladder of Sun—Laura Apol—Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, MI
Apol’s poetry explores the ordinary, mundane moments of life, transforming them into the extraordinary. Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals, including a full-length collection, Falling into Grace. She is currently Associate Professor of Education at Michigan State University. Although she now lives in East Lansing, she still considers Oklahoma her spirit’s home.

Wild Civility—David Biespiel—University of Washington Press, Seattle, WA
Biespiel was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Texas. The poems in Wild Civility are the product of two years of writing in a single form: a nine-line sonnet that Biespiel calls an American Sonnet. The result was an “explosion of language” for the author. Biespiel lives with his wife and son in Portland, Oregon.

The Shadow’s Horse—Diane Glancy—University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ
“Wholeness is when the shadow of the rider and his horse are one,” according to a saying in the Native American tradition. In The Shadow’s Horse, Glancy employs her diverse talent with words to walk the margin between her Indian and white heritage as she writes about family, work, and faith. A 2003 Oklahoma Book Award winner for The Mask Maker: A Novel, Glancy is a perennial presence on Oklahoma Book Award finalists lists, and is also a finalist in the Fiction category this year.

By the Grace of Ghosts—Judith Tate O’Brien and Jane Taylor—Village Books Press, Cheyenne, OK
O’Brien and Taylor met in poetry class in 1992. Thereafter, they met weekly, “teaching each other how to look for the poem that had gone into hiding; how to craft it or else abandon it; and how to braid our writing lives into a long rope of friendship.” The small Oklahoma Catholic mission of Sacred Heart, now a ghost town, played a role in the family histories of both women. O’Brien currently teaches creative writing at Rose State College, while Taylor makes her living as a reference librarian at the University of Central Oklahoma.



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 405-522-3383.


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