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2008 Oklahoma Book Award Winners

photograph of 2008 OK Book Award Winners
2008 Winners (back row, left to right) David Dary, Nancy Isenberg, Devin Scillian, Kandy Radzinski, Kristin Cast, and Connie Goble
(front) Carl Brune, Rilla Askew, Sandra Soli, and P.C. Cast


cover of Poetry winnerPoetry

What Trees Know
Sandra Soli—Greystone Press, Edmond, OK

In this elegant collection of poems, Soli blends past and present, the personal and the universal, to reveal a quiet wisdom. Born in Birmingham, England, Soli emigrated to Oklahoma after World War II and became a naturalized citizen while attending Oklahoma College for Women. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and has been featured on National Public Radio. She is winner of LSU’s Eyster Prize in Poetry and has been a finalist in many other major competitions. Her chapbook Silvering the Flute was an Oklahoma Book Award finalist. For nine years, she was columnist and poetry editor for ByLine magazine.

cover of Design winnerDesign and Illustration

Design Winner— Oklahoma: A Portrait of America
Photography by Scott Raffe, Designed by Carl Brune—Billy Books, Tulsa, OK

A seamless synthesis of photography, design and the written word (writing by Libby Bender), this book captures an “unvarnished Oklahoma in all its eccentricity and beauty and humor and absurdity and strength,” according to Rilla Askew in the book’s afterword. Raffe’s assured eye, an artful juxtaposition of photographs, and Brune’s simple, yet sophisticated, design provide the impact. Raffe is an award-winning professional photographer who made his way to Tulsa by way of Chicago, St. Louis and Denver. Brune is an Oklahoma native and a two-time Oklahoma Book Award winner in design.

cover of Illustration winnerIllustration Winner
What Cats Want for Christmas
Illustrated by Kandy Radzinski—Sleeping Bear Press, Chelsea, MI

What do cats want for the holidays? Radzinski illustrates her own story with fourteen precocious felines who request everything from “fleas for my neighbor’s Pekingese” to a “sweater knit of red Irish Setter.” Radzinski is a two-time Oklahoma Book Award winner in this category. She has illustrated children’s books, posters, greeting cards, and even a six-foot penguin. She was the artist for the state’s 2007 Centennial Summer Reading Program for Children. She lives in Tulsa with her two Scottie dogs, husband Mark, and son Ian.

cover of Non-Fiction winnerNon-Fiction

Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr
Nancy Isenberg—Viking Press, New York, NY

Whereas traditional historiography portrays Burr as a villain, Isenberg argues he was no less a patriot and principled thinker than those who debased him, a strong character we might embrace today. The author describes him as a Revolutionary War hero, an Enlightened thinker, feminist, a brilliant lawyer and orator, and an inspired legislator, politician, and statesman. Isenberg, the Mary Frances Barnard Chair in nineteenth-century American History at the University of Tulsa, has written extensively on issues of politics and law.

Children/Young Adult

photo of the Children's Award winning bookChildren Winner— Pappy’s Handkerchief
Devin Scillian—Sleeping Bear Press, Chelsea, MI

Young Moses and his family sell all they own and leave Baltimore to travel West and take part in the Oklahoma Land Run. A unique opportunity for an African American family, their wagon journey is plagued with troubles from ice storms and flooded rivers to diminishing supplies and sickness. Scillian, a former anchor for KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City, was a finalist in 2004 and 2007 for the Oklahoma Book Award. Devin describes the 2004 finalist, S is for Sooner, as his love letter to Oklahoma.

cover of Young Adult winnerYoung Adult Winner— Marked: A House of Night Novel
P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast—St. Martin’s Griffin, New York, NY

Sixteen-year-old Zoey Redbird has been Marked as a fledgling vampyre and joins the House of Night, a school where she will train to become an adult vampyre. She faces many challenges including discovering that the leader of the school’s most elite group is misusing her Goddess-given gifts. P.C. Cast is an award-winning fantasy and paranormal romance author, as well as a speaker and teacher. Her daughter, Kristin Cast, attends the University of Tulsa and has won awards for poetry and journalism. Both authors live in the Tulsa metropolitan area.

cover of Fiction winnerFiction

Rilla Askew—University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK

Askew’s third novel draws on history, folk tradition and myth to create this love story about Dustbowl heroes who didn’t leave for California. Harpsong, and her two previous novels, Mercy Seat and Fire in Beulah, comprise a compelling trilogy of work that throws new light on the events and times that have shaped the Oklahoma character. Askew is a two-time Oklahoma Book Award winner, and recipient of the Western Heritage Award and the American Book Award. Fire in Beulah was the 2007 Oklahoma Reads Oklahoma book. She teaches at the University of Oklahoma and lives in Oklahoma and New York.

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.

Professor Danney Glenn Goble was a rare person, a seamless blend of teacher, scholar, and friend. His brilliant intellect and biting humor were balanced by humility and generosity of heart. He often defied convention.

An exceptionally gifted teacher, he made Oklahoma history and politics come alive to his students. They respected, admired, and adored him. He taught at Tulsa Junior College (now Tulsa Community College), Rogers University (now Oklahoma State University–Tulsa), the University of Tulsa, and the University of Oklahoma. He was recognized with several teaching awards.

Danney Goble earned his undergraduate degree at University of Central Oklahoma and his master’s degree at OU, but he discovered that Oklahoma history was “real history” while he was earning his doctorate at University of Missouri. As an Oklahoman he was keenly aware of the inferiority complex that many Oklahomans tend to have about their state. He worked hard throughout the remainder of his adult life to help Oklahomans become better acquainted with their state’s history, especially the colorful events of the twentieth century. He traveled all around the state to speak about Oklahoma history wherever he was invited—in classrooms, libraries, civic groups, seminars, and conferences.

Author or co-author of eight books, he was a scholar who wrote with the polish of a professional writer, unmatched in his ability to tell a good story. This is particularly evident in two collaborative works, Little Giant: The Life and Times of Speaker Carl Albert, which won the Oklahoma Book Award and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and A Matter of Black and White: The Autobiography of Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher, which was named the outstanding book in political science by the National Conference of Black Political Scientists. He also collaborated very successfully with David Baird in writing The Story of Oklahoma, a high school textbook that has been adopted by many public schools, and with Bob Goins on the award-winning fourth edition of Historical Atlas of Oklahoma. At the time of his death, he was co-authoring with Mike Cassity a book on the history of Presbyterianism in Oklahoma.

Danney’s first book, Progressive Oklahoma: The Making of a New Kind of State, remains a classic for its description of the impact of Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory on the development of political traditions in the state.

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.
photograph of David Dary
David Dary

David Dary is a respected journalist and educator, and a prize-winning historian of the Old West. He has written 15 books and more than 200 articles for newspapers and magazines. He is emeritus professor of journalism at the University of Oklahoma. He retired in 2000, after 11 years as head of what is now the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. He lives in Norman, Oklahoma.

Dary was born in Manhattan, Kansas, in 1934. After graduating from Kansas State University, in 1956, and completing a stint in the Army Reserve, a newly-wed Dary went to work in the radio business in Texas. In the 1960s Dary worked in production and administration for CBS and NBC News in Texas and Washington D.C. In 1967, while at NBC, Dary wrote his first book, Radio News Handbook.

In the late 60s, after returning to Kansas for family reasons, Dary helped plan and build a new NBC television station in Topeka. In 1969, he joined the faculty of the journalism school at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. He earned his master’s degree in journalism during his first year of teaching. Over the next 20 years at KU, Dary rose to the rank of full professor.

His university teaching schedule allowed him time to write, and in 1974, Dary completed The Buffalo Book. It became a Book-of-the-Month selection. During this time he also began writing stories for the Kansas City Star’s Sunday supplement—collected in True Tales of the Old-Time Plains (1979). In 1981, Dary wrote Cowboy Culture: A Saga of Five Centuries. Published by Alfred A. Knopf of New York, Cowboy Culture won several awards and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. The books that followed—including Seeking Pleasure in the Old West, Entrepreneurs of the Old West, The Santa Fe Trail: Its History, Legends and Lore, and The Oregon Trail: An American Saga—confirm his place as a leading authority on the American West. Dary has received the Cowboy Hall of Fame’s Wrangler Award, two Western Writers of America Spur Awards, the Westerners International Best Nonfiction Book Award, and the Owen Wister Award for lifetime achievement from the Western Writers of America.

In 1989, the University of Oklahoma recruited Dary to head the School of Journalism, where he hired new faculty, rebuilt the program, and elevated the journalism school to a freestanding college. In 2007, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.


To see complete list of 2008 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 1-800-522-8116 toll free, statewide. In the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, call 522-3383.


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