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2013 Oklahoma Book Award Winners


24th Annual Oklahoma Book Awards program was held on Saturday, April 13, at Oklahoma City’s Jim Thorpe Museum and Sports Hall of Fame.

The event is sponsored each year by the Oklahoma Center for the Book in the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, a state affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, and the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book. The awards recognize books written the previous year by Oklahomans or about Oklahoma. Of the 121 books entered in the competition, 35 were selected as finalists. Twenty-five of the finalists were by authors, poets, designers or illustrators who reside in Oklahoma.

At the ceremony, awards were presented to books and authors in five literary categories: Children/Young Adult, Poetry, Design/Illustration or Photography, Fiction, and Non-Fiction.

photograph of 2013 winners
The 2013 Oklahoma Book Award Winners: [left to right, back row] M. Scott Carter, W.K. Stratton, Tony Roberts, Frank Keating, and Mike Wimmer • [front row] Billie Letts, Carl Sennhenn, and Linda McDonald • [not pictured] Carol Haralson

In addition to the literary awards, the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award for contributions to Oklahoma's literary heritage was given to Tulsa writer Billie Letts, author of Where The Heart Is, The Honk and Holler Opening Soon, Shoot the Moon, and Made in the U.S.A. The award is named for the Norman historian who served as the first president of the Oklahoma Center for the Book..

The Ralph Ellison Award was given posthumously to Creek poet, journalist, and essayist Alex Posey.

book coverNon-Fiction

Floyd Patterson: The Fighting Life of Boxing’s Invisible Champion  W.K. StrattonHoughton Mifflin Harcourt, New York, NY

Stratton examines the life and career of professional boxer and two-time World Heavy Weight Champion Floyd Patterson. Noting that Patterson’s accomplishments are often overlooked, the author argues Patterson changed both sports in general and the boxing world. Moreover, Patterson’s boxing accomplishments provided him the opportunity to speak out on more important social issues including the civil rights movement. Stratton’s books have twice been nominated for the Oklahoma Book Award. A native Oklahoman, Stratton now lives in Austin, Texas.

book coverPoetry

Nocturnes and Sometimes, Even ICarl SennhennVillage Books Press

Sennhenn has been called an “elder statesman of Oklahoma poetry” and is praised for having the “true voice” of a poet. This is his fourth collection of poetry. His collection Travels Through Enchanted Woods received the 2007 Oklahoma Book Award. In retirement after more than fifty years as a professor of English and Humanities at Rose State College in Midwest City, he teaches creative writing for senior adults through Rose State and gives workshops locally and nationally. Born in Baltimore, he has called Oklahoma home since 1951. He was Oklahoma Poet Laureate for 2001 and 2002.

Children/Young Adult

book coverYoung Adult Winner 

The Immortal Von B.M. Scott CarterThe RoadRunner Press

Carter’s sophomore novel is a book about love according to its author—a love for music and culture, a love letter to Ludwig von Beethoven, and a love story about a boy and a girl. At its heart lies the question, “Can a teenage girl from this century find happiness with a young composer from another?” Josie Brunswick is about to find out the answer to that question after she moves to Europe with her father so he can head up a new secret world genetics lab. Carter’s first novel, the critically-acclaimed Stealing Kevin’s Heart, was also an Oklahoma Book Award finalist. He is an investigative investigative political reporter for The Journal Record and lives in Oklahoma City with his family.

book coverChildren 

George: George Washington Our Founding FatherFrank KeatingSimon & Schuster

Former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating creates an intimate first-person narrative of Washington’s life, interweaving the biography with quotes from the “Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation.” By the time Washington was fifteen, he had handwritten the rules from a larger volume, and was determined to make them the guide by which he lived his life. This is Keating’s fourth collaboration with illustrator Mike Wimmer. Both Will Rogers: An American Legend and The Trial of Standing Bear received the Golden Spur Award of the Western Writers of America. Theodore, a biography of the first President Roosevelt, received a School Library Journal starred review. Today, Keating and former First Lady Cathy Keating live in Washington, D.C.

Design and Illustration

book coverDesign Winner 

The James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection  Book Design by Carol Haralson, Cover Design by Tony Roberts  Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art/University of Oklahoma Press

Haralson creates a serious but modern design to showcase the diverse selected works from the Bialac Collection, called “one of the most important collections of modern Native American art assembled by one individual.” The art remains on center stage throughout the book, just as it does on Roberts’s cover, which features Helen Hardin’s Winter Awakening of the O-khoo-wah. Haralson is a native of Miami, Oklahoma, who now lives in Sedona, Arizona. Roberts is a designer at the University of Oklahoma Press in Norman.

Illustration Winner

George: George Washington, Our Founding Father Illustration by Mike WimmerSimon & Schuster

Wimmer’s rich paintings grace the pages of this introduction to America’s most beloved Founding Father and the nation’s first president. The artist is nationally celebrated and works for a diversity of clients, but confesses he finds his greatest artistic pleasure in illustrating children’s books. Wimmer lives in Norman and has been an Oklahoma Book Award finalist numerous times. He received the medal in 1995 for his illustration of All the Places to Love.

book coverFiction

Crimes of RedemptionLinda McDonaldThe RoadRunner Press, Oklahoma City, OK

In her debut novel, McDonald provides an exhilarating story of Gayla Early, who is being railroaded for murder in a small Oklahoma town. Although she claims to know the killer’s identity, she suddenly finds herself the prime suspect in a second murder. Albert Reader, the town’s most powerful citizen has been killed, and his friends are demanding justice. Sheriff Tommy Maynard and a grumpy recluse are all that is keeping Gayla from going to prison. Born and raised on the plains of Oklahoma, McDonald currently makes her home in Oklahoma City.





To see complete list of 2013 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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