icon_newspaper.gifKaren Klinka, The Oklahoman
Sunday, March 14, 2004

Books about lizards around the world, a 1,200-pound cow stuck in a silo and a mystery in a fictional Oklahoma town won awards at the 15th annual Oklahoma Book Awards on Saturday at the Petroleum Club in Oklahoma City.

The awards are sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Book, a state affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

Oklahoma novelist and mystery writer Carolyn Hart and the late Cherokee author/playwright Lynn Riggs were honored with special awards.

Hart received the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award, named for the Norman historian who was the first president of the Oklahoma Center for the Book, which was established in 1986.

“The loveliest part of this evening is having so many dear friends here, and seeing so many wonderful Oklahoma writers in this room,” Hart said in her acceptance speech.

The Ralph Ellison Award, created to posthumously honor people who made outstanding contributions to Oklahoma’s literary heritage, was bestowed on Riggs, who died in 1954.

The Oklahoma-born Riggs wrote books, screenplays and stage plays, including “Green Grow the Lilacs,” which provided the story for the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “Oklahoma!”

The first Directors Award for Special Merit was presented to first-time author Doris Eaton Travis, 99, a former Ziegfeld Follies dancer who runs a ranch in Norman.

Travis’ book was a finalist in this year’s awards.

The awards recognize works written by an Oklahoman or about Oklahoma.

This year’s award for fiction went to “Song of the Bones,” written by Edmond author M. K. Preston and published by Intrigue Press of Denver.

The winner in the nonfiction category was “Lizards: Windows to the Evolution of Diversity,” written by Eric R. Pianka and Laurie J. Vitt and published by the University of California Press.

Sharon Darrow won the award in the young adult category for “The Painters of Lexieville,” published by Candlewick Press of Cambridge, Mass.

In the children’s book category, Una Belle Townsend won for, “Grady’s in the Silo,” published by Pelican Publishing Company Inc. of Gretna, La.

Laura Apol won for her volume of verse, “Crossing the Ladder of the Sun,” published by Michigan State University Press.

“Family Album: A Centennial Pictorial of the Oklahoma Publishing Company,” designed by Scott Horton with photographs by Jim Argo, won in the design category.