2019 Oklahoma Book Awards

Alphabet image

2019 Oklahoma Book Awards

Alphabet image


On April 12, 2019, authors, poets, illustrators, designers, publishers, and avid readers came together for a night to celebrate some of Oklahoma’s most talented literary standouts. Awards were given in the categories of children/young adult, design/illustration, fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Steven Baker, director of the Friends of the Oklahoma Center for the book, led the evening as the master of ceremonies.

The 2019 Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to one of Oklahoma’s most notable and prolific writers, William Bernhardt. He has sold more than 10 million copies of his books. He is the author of 46 works, including the bestselling Ben Kincaid mystery/ thriller series, the historical novels Challengers of the Dust and Nemesis, two books of poetry (The White Bird and The Ocean’s Edge), and a series of books on fiction writing.

The evening would not have been possible without the generous support of sponsors. The 2019 Shakespearean sponsor is the Pioneer Library System. The Hemingway sponsor is Bob Burke for Oklahoma Hall of Fame Publishing.

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.

View photos from the 2019 Oklahoma Book Awards on Flickr.

2019 Winners



Friends Stick Together 
Friends Stick Together cover with a rhino and birdby Hannah E. Harrison
Penguin Random House

In this poignant tale of friendship, Rupert and Levi have absolutely nothing in common! Rupert is a rhino who likes to read dictionaries, listen to classical music, and eat cucumber sandwiches without the crust. Levi is a tickbird who likes corny jokes, making armpit farts, and popping wheelies. Levi shows up at school one day, attaches himself to Rupert, and announces they are going to be best friends. Rupert, however, wants no part of Levi and his crude ways. Rupert does everything he can think of to separate himself from Levi. When Levi finally leaves him alone, Rupert discovers he misses the boisterous tickbird.



Legends of the Lost Causes
Legends of the Lost Causesby Brad McLelland and Louis Sylvester
Henry Holt and Company

This thrilling adventure involves a band of orphan avengers, a cursed stone and a horde of zombie outlaws. Keech Blackwood’s life is in shambles after Bad Whiskey Nelson burns the Home of Lost Causes to the ground. However, for the first time in his life, Blackwood has a purpose. He must find the powerful Char Stone. He acquires the help of a ragtag group of orphans, and together they travel through treacherous forests, fight off the risen dead, and discover they share mysterious bonds as they track down the legendary stone.



Love Can Be
book design by Christopher Lee, cover design by Steven Walker, cover photography by Joel Sartore, and illustrations by J.J. Ritchey
Kirkpatrick Foundation

This anthology of poems and prose, Love Can Be: A Literary Collection About Our Animals, is proof of what love can be, as thirty acclaimed authors join together to champion life in all its forms. This is their gift to the world, not just the artistry of their words, but their vision of an extended community that includes cats, birds, frogs, butterflies, bears, dogs, raccoons, horses—a full-out menagerie of being that enriches us all. The design of Love Can Be conveys the warmth and richness of its subject matter. Details, mostly transparent to the average reader—the typeface, the leading, the use of rules, etc.—quietly suggest a meticulousness that honors the stories.



Friends Stick Together 
Friends Stick Together cover with a rhino and birdby Hannah E. Harrison
Penguin Random House

Harrison is best known for the gentle and whimsical animal characters that populate her stories. Her artwork is fanciful, fun, and colorful while remaining finely detailed and true to each respective animal. Rupert the Rhino has a wide selection of sweater vests and bow ties covering his rough and wrinkled hide. Levi the Tickbird has detailed, lifelike feathers beneath his shorts, and a t-shirt.



Nothing but the Blood 
Nothing But the Bloodby Laura Apol
Michigan State University Press

Apol’s collection is made up of poems that explore the evolution of belief, living in the body, daughter-mother and mother-daughter interactions, the celebration and failure of a long-term relationship, and the loss of friends and colleagues. Coming as they do at mid-life, the poems understand, appreciate, and often push back against the weight of both history and expectation.



Alfalfa Bill: A Life in Politics
Alfalfa Bill: A Life in Politicsby Robert L. Dorman
University of Oklahoma Press

Robert L. Dorman traces the intriguing life and career of William H. “Alfalfa Bill” Murray from his hardscrabble childhood in post–Civil War Texas to his remarkable ascendancy as a nationally known political figure in the mid-twentieth century. The first comprehensive portrait of Murray to be published in fifty years, Alfalfa Bill is both the exploration of a larger-than-life personality and an illuminating account of the birth of political conservatism in Oklahoma.



November Road
November Roadby Lou Berney
William Morrow/Harper Collins

Frank Guidry, a loyal lieutenant to New Orleans mob boss Carlos Marcello, realizes within hours of the John F. Kennedy assassination his luck may be running out. People connected with Marcello are being murdered, and Guidry, thinking he may be next, decides to vanish. On the road, he picks up Charlotte, a woman with two children, hoping to escape to a new life. As the two fugitives begin to know each other, they soon discover they are falling in love. Can they elude those chasing them and live a life they both desperately want?



See the complete list of 2019 Oklahoma Book Award finalists.

See more about the Oklahoma Book Awards:  2018 winners and 2018 finalists.

View the list of all previous Oklahoma Book Award winners and special recognitions.

View eligibility requirements.