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2005 Oklahoma Book Award Winners

photo of the 2005 Book Award winners
2005 Winners: [left to right] Joyce Carol Thomas, Children • Ed Cray, Non-Fiction • Molly Levite Griffis, Young Adult • C.J. Cherryh, Gibson Lifetime Achievement • Francine Leffler Ringold, Poetry • Arlo Guthrie, accepting for late father Woody Guthrie, Ellison Award recipient • Will Thomas, Fiction • not pictured, Carol Haralson, Design/Illustration

cover of The Gospel Cinderella

Children/Young Adult

Children Winner: The Gospel CinderellaJoyce Carol Thomas—Joanna Cotler Books/Harper Collins, New York, NY—Cinderella sings and has a voice as flavorful as licorice in this original variation of the traditional favorite. Instead of Prince Charming, there’s Prince Music. The evil stepmother is Crooked Foster Mother, and instead of a ball, there’s the Great Gospel Convention! While there’s no glass slipper to leave behind at the convention, there is an enchanted melody for the prince to search for… and to find. Ponca City native Joyce Carol Thomas received the Center’s Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. She is also an Oklahoma Book Award winner for her book of lullabies, Hush Songs.

cover of Simon SaysYoung Adult Winner: Simon SaysMolly Levite Griffis—Eakin Press, Austin, TX—Simon Says is the third title in Griffis’s World War II home front trilogy, which began with The Rachel Resistance and continued with The Feester Filibuster. In the final chapter, the author takes us back to Apache, Oklahoma, to tell the poignant story of an uprooted Jewish boy who loses his identity but holds on to his life. The Rachel Resistance received the 2002 Oklahoma Book Award. Griffis lives with her husband in Norman, Oklahoma.

cover of Ramblin' ManNon-Fiction

Ramblin’ Man: The Life and Times of Woody GuthrieEd Cray—W.W. Norton & Company, New York, NY—Woody Guthrie, writer, singer, and political activist, is perhaps the single most important figure to have influenced the tradition of American folk music. His music honored and heartened the dispossessed and disgruntled in an America darkened by poverty. Ed Cray is the first biographer to have full access to the Woody Guthrie Archives. He has drawn from thousands of letters and interviewed more than seventy people close to Guthrie to uncover this portrait of a great Oklahoman and a great American. Cray is a professor of journalism at the University of Southern California.

cover of Still DancingPoetry

Still DancingFrancine Leffler Ringold—Coman & Associates, Tulsa, OK—Francine Leffler Ringold is Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and a 2003 winner of the “Writers Who Make a Difference” Award from The Writer Magazine. Her collection of poems, The Trouble With Voices, received the Oklahoma Book Award in 1996. Her name is also synonymous in the minds of many with Nimrod, the international literary journal she has edited and championed for almost 40 years. Still Dancing interweaves two dozen new poems with original poetry from four previous volumes.

cover of A History of the OK Governor's MansionDesign and Illustration

A History of the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion—Designed by Carol Haralson—Oklahoma Heritage Association, Oklahoma City, OK—Carol Haralson skillfully combines historic and present-day photos, graphics, and Bob Burke and Betty Crow’s narrative to help tell the story of Oklahoma’s main house. Haralson is a multiple winner in this category. A former Tulsan, she now makes her home in Sedona, Arizona.

cover of Some Danger InvolvedFiction

Some Danger InvolvedWill Thomas—Simon and Schuster, New York, NY—Modeled after the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Will Thomas’s debut novel is set in the gritty streets of Victorian London. The work introduces detective Cyrus Barker and his apprentice Thomas Llewelyn, as they work to solve the gruesome murder of a young scholar. Thomas is a librarian for the Tulsa City-County Library System. He has done extensive research on the Victorian novel. His writings have appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and other publications. He lives in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma with his family.

Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award

The Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award is presented each year to recognize a body of work. This award was named for the Norman, Okahoma historian who served as the first president of the Oklahoma Center for the Book.
photo of CJ Cheeryh receiving her Lifetime Achievement Award
C.J. Cherryh receives her Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award

C.J. Cherryh is one of the most prolific and highly respected authors in America. She has more than sixty books to her credit and is the winner of numerous honors, including three prestigious Hugo Awards, given by the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS).

Cherryh’s first book, Gate of Ivrel, was published in 1976. Since then she has become a leading writer of science fiction and fantasy, known for extraordinary originality, versatility, and superb writing. She received the John W. Campbell Award in 1977 for the Best New Writer, voted by the WSFS. Cherryh received the coveted Hugo Award for short story in 1979 for Cassandra, for novel in 1982 for Downbelow Station, and in 1989 for Cyteen. Cyteen also won the Locus Award, presented to winners of Locus magazine’s annual readers’ poll, for the best science fiction novel of 1988.

A person of varied talents, Cherryh’s personal interests lie in human genetics, astronomy, space science, aeronautics, astrophysicis, botany, geology, climatology, archaeology, cosmology, anthropology, and technology in general with practical and anthropological consideration. In her official biography she states, “I write full time. I travel. I try out things. The list includes, present and past tense; fencing, riding, archery, firearms, ancient weapons, donkeys, elephants, camels, butterflies, frogs, wasps, turtles, bees, ants, falconry, exotic swamp plants and tropicals, lizards, wilderness survival, fishing, sailing, street and ice skating, mechanics, carpentry, wiring, painting (canvas), painting (house), painting (interior), sculpture, aquariums (both fresh and salt), needlepoint, bird breeding, furniture refinishing, video games, archaeology, Roman, Greek civ, Crete, Celts, and caves.” At 61 she took up figure skating.

Cherryh has a BA in Latin from the University of Oklahoma and a MA in Classics from John Hopkins University in Maryland. She taught Latin and ancient history in Oklahoma City Public Schools. Today she lives in Spokane, Washington.

Ralph Ellison Award

From time to time, the Ralph Ellison Award, honoring a deceased Oklahoma writer, is presented. The award is named after the first recipient, Ralph Ellison, author of the ground-breaking novel Invisible Man. A list of Ellison Award recipients is listed on the Previous Winners page of this program.

Born in Okemah, Oklahoma, and known as the Dust Bowl Balladeer, Woody Guthrie was both “common man” and “renaissance man.” In his prose and song, he illuminated some of the most significant and troubled periods of the twentieth century—the Great Depression, the Great Dust Storms, and World War II.

photo of Arlo Guthrie receiving the Ellison Award
Arlo Guthrie receiving the Ellison Award for his late father Woody Guthrie

Guthrie wrote more than a thousand songs—dust bowl ballads, union songs, children’s songs, patriotic songs, anti-fascist songs, and songs celebrating the beauty and power of America—including the masterpiece This Land is Your Land. Guthrie’s concerns as a songwriter and his approach to the form have had a far-reaching and enduring impact on popular music.

His famous semi-autobiographical work, Bound for Glory, was published in 1943. Guthrie has been inducted into The Songwriters Hall of Fame (1971), The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (1977), and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum (1988). In 2001, the community of Okemah was named a Literary Landmark in honor of Guthrie by the Friends of Libraries in Oklahoma (FOLIO).

In 1954, suffering from Huntington’s Chorea, a degenerative disease, Guthrie admitted himself into Greystone Hospital in New Jersey, one of several that he would go in and out of for the next thirteen years. While at Creedmoor State Hospital in Queens, New York, Woody Guthrie died on October 3, 1967.

Arlo Guthrie, Woody’s eldest son, accepted the Ralph Ellison Award for his father. Perhaps best known for 1967’s “Alice’s Restaurant” song and album, Arlo has carved out a long-lasting career as a folksinger and songwriter. Like his father, Arlo is a natural storyteller with a social conscience and a sense of humor. He plays piano, six- and twelve-string guitar, harmonica and a dozen other instruments. In addition, he is an actor, a writer, and has launched his own record label, Rising Son. Arlo also works for such causes as environmentalism, health care, cultural preservation and educational exchange.

Directors Awards

Form time to time, the Book Award judges have approached the awards committee about honoring works of special merit. Last year, the awards committee established the Directors Award in order to meet this need. The first Directors Award went to Doris Eaton Travis’ memoir The Days We Danced.

This year the judges brought two works to the attention of the awards committee: a book, and a series of books. The committee thought both works were deserving of a Directors Award:

photo of The Fine Art of the WestThe Fine Art of the West, an in-depth look at the gear of the Cowboys of the American west from the mid-nineteenth century to today.  Saddles, boots, hats, firearms and other examples of the cowboy’s work-a-day life became beautiful art objects and are now collector’s Items.  B. Byron Price, a leading expert in the field  of American art, tells the fascinating story of how these objects took form.

photo of Rabbit and the Bears coverThe judges from both the children/young adult category and the design category recommended honoring a series of works known as the Grandmother Stories.  This series of old Cherokee tales has been beautifully rewritten and uniquely illustrated by Deborah L. Duvall and Murv Jacob, respectively. So far, the series includes Rabbit and the Bears, How Rabbit Lost His Tail, How Medicine Came to the People,  and Oklahoma Book Award-winner The Great Ballgame of the Birds and Animals.  In June of 2005, a new book, Rabbit and the Wolves, will be available. The judges felt this series has carefully and creatively preserved traditional Cherokee legends in a way that should be celebrated and honored.




To see complete list of 2005 Oklahoma Book Award Finalists go here.


The Oklahoma Center for the Book, sponsor of the Oklahoma Book Award competition, is 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. Additional sponsorship of the awards program is through the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book, a nonprofit 501-c-3 organization.

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; or call 405-522-3383.


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