2015 Oklahoma Book Award Winners

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2015 Oklahoma Book Award Winners

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Writers, publishers, and reading enthusiasts across the state met at the Jim Thorpe Museum and Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday, April 11, 2015, for the 26th Annual Oklahoma Book Awards.

2015 Winners

Julie Rushing, Cheryl E.B. Wattley, Dondi Rodgers (for Greg Rodgers), Anthony Roberts, Rennard Strickland, Will Thomas, Jessica Isaacs, Roy Deering, and Hannah E. Harrison

Awards were given in the children/young adult; design, illustration, and photography; fiction; non-fiction; and poetry. Oklahoma educator, historian, poet, and storyteller Rennard Strickland received the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award.  

The evening would not have been possible without the generous support of the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the Book. Moreover, this year’s Shakespearean sponsors were Dunlap Codding and the Osage Nation. The Hemingway sponsors were Bob Burke (for Oklahoma Heritage Association Publishing), Betty C. Hatcher, The Roadrunner Press, and Laurie Williams. Williams received the Glenda Carlile Distinguished Service Award at the dinner for her support of the Book Awards, and for her contributions to the Center’s Letters About Literature reading and writing program for Oklahoma students.

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.

The 2015 Oklahoma Book Awards program book is available upon request.


A Step Toward Brown v. Board of Education: Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher and Her Fight to End Segregation—Cheryl Elizabeth Brown Wattley—University of Oklahoma Press

Wattley gives us a richly textured picture of the black-and-white world from which Ada Lois Sipuel and her family emerged, from slavery under the Five Civilized Tribes to the establishment of autonomous black communities in the segregated state of Oklahoma. Against this background, Wattley shows Sipuel (who married Warren Fisher a year before she filed her suit) struggling against a segregated educational system. Sipuel Fisher challenged the OU College of Law’s policy forbidding the admittance of African American students. Wattley takes the reader through the legal challenges that ended with the U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck another blow against segregation. Wattley is Professor of Law and Director of Experiential Learning at the University of North Texas, Dallas, College of Law.


Deep August—Jessica Isaacs—Village Books Press

Isaacs’s collection is a study in contrasts. Her poems are raw, yet lyrical; scorching, yet icy; rooted in reality, yet gazing at the stars. Isaacs is an English professor at Seminole State College, where she serves as the director of the annual Howlers & Yawpers Creativity Symposium. She is a member of the coordinating committee for the Woody Guthrie Poets, and has been published in various journals and anthologies. She has lived in Oklahoma all of her life, and currently resides in Prague with her husband, kids, dogs, cats, and fish.

Children/Young Adult

Young Adult Winner

Finders Keepers—Roy Deering—The RoadRunner Press

When Mr. Martin hires his son’s friend, Tomás, to clear out the family’s old vacant Five & Dime store, he tells the boy he can keep whatever he finds. But when Tomás finds six valuable boxes of old Topps baseball cards in pristine condition, all bets are off. The cards are worth millions, and now Mr. Martin wants them for his own. Soon, everyone in the small Texas town is either taking sides or trying to get their hands on the treasure. Deering is a middle school English teacher and a lifelong baseball fan and card collector. Before teaching, he spent more than twenty years as a journalist. He lives in Ada with his family.


Chukfi Rabbit’s Big, Bad Bellyache: A Trickster Tale—Greg Rodgers—Cinco Puntos Press

When Bear, Turtle, Fox, and Beaver agree on an everybody-work-together day to build Ms. Possum a new house, Chukfi Rabbit says he’s too busy to help. (Everyone knows that Chuckfi Rabbit is really just too “lay-zeeee” to help!) When Chukfi hears there will be a feast after the work is done, he changes his mind. Not that he plans to actually work. But this greedy trickster will soon learn that being lazy is hard work! The late Greg Rodgers was born and bred in Oklahoma. A storyteller and a writer, he loved sharing his Choctaw heritage with people of all ages.


Design Winner

A Legacy in Arms—book design by Julie Rushing and jacket design by Anthony Roberts—University of Oklahoma Press

Beautifully designed weapons are saluted with this carefully designed book. A clear and meticulous logic guided Rushing as she set out to showcase the elegant and elaborate firearms that have been part of America’s story. Roberts’s evocative cover draws the reader in. Rushing is production designer, and Roberts is graphic designer, at the University of Oklahoma Press in Norman.

Illustration Winner

Extraordinary Jane—illustrated by Hannah E. Harrison—Penguin

Harrison’s delightful paintings bring the joy of a circus to storytime. The fun begins with the whimsical “wallpaper” endsheets that depict ordinary puppy Jane attempting a variety of circus stunts. Harrison is an award-winning painter, specializing in animal subjects. This is the first picture book she has written and illustrated. She grew up in New Hampshire, and now lives in Ada with her husband and daughter.


Fatal Enquiry—Will Thomas—Minotaur Books

The sixth novel in Thomas’s Cyrus Barker/Thomas Llewellyn series, set in Victorian London, is also the author’s sixth honor as an Oklahoma Book Award finalist. He received the 2004 Oklahoma Book Award for Some Danger Involved. In the latest installment, the private enquiry agent and his assistant are threatened by an old nemesis, Nightwine, who is planning to unleash his most deadly scheme yet. Thomas works as a librarian in Tulsa. He lives in Broken Arrow with his family.

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Also view the 2015 finalists.

See eligibility requirements.

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