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2004 NATIONAL OUTDOOR BOOK AWARD WINNERS ANNOUNCED
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Nature and the Environment Category. Winner. The Snowflake: Winter's Secret Beauty. By Kenneth Libbrecht. Photography by Patricia Rasmussen. Voyageur Press, Stillwater, Minnesota. ISBN 0896586308
John Muir called them snow flowers. Thoreau described them as sweepings from the floor of heaven. For ages, snow crystals have captured the attention of poets and writers. In more recent times--particularly the last couple of decades--scientists have learned much about these seemingly simple but incredibly complex minute wonders. Yet little of that scientific work has been available to the layman. Until now--and it's all packaged in an elegant and splendidly designed book. Author and researcher Kenneth Libbrecht clearly explains the processes by which crystals are formed and how to identify major crystal types. The highlight of the book is the exquisite and mesmerizing photography of Patricia Rasumussen--which remind us why these sweepings of heaven continue to astonish and amaze.
Outdoor Literature. Winner. Out There: In the Wild in a Wired Age. By Ted Kerasote. Voyageur Press, Stillwater, Minnesota. ISBN 0896585565
Ted Kerasote has a friendly style of writing, and in Out There you feel like you've settled in a chat with an old friend. The chat, in this case, centers on a trip that Kerasote has taken down the Horton River of Canada's Northwest Territories. This not a trip where death is lurking around every corner; rather it's a fine and thoughtful journey in which Kerasote grapples with the use of GPS, satellite phones, and other technology in the wilderness. Honestly written and well-crafted, it says much about what has become of the outdoor experience.
Outdoor Literature. Winner. Where The Mountain Casts Its Shadow: The Dark Side of Extreme Adventure. By Maria Coffey. St. Martin's Press, New York. ISBN 0312290659
This is a moving and gracefully written story, one that has been waiting to be told for a long time. This is what it's like for the families and friends of mountaineers who die or who are injured on expeditions. Maria Coffey, who intimately knows the pain of losing a loved one to the mountains, could have easily turned the book into a tirade against climbing. Instead she embraces adventure, emphasizing again and again that risk serves an important role in contemporary society. Nonetheless, she cautions that, when we venture into the unknown, we should never forget the terrible costs of adventure gone awry. That's been missing from much contemporary outdoor literature, and Coffey is to be commended for the sensitive and rational way in which she has brought it to the forefront.
Outdoor Literature. Honorable Mention. A Blistered Kind of Love. By Angela and Duffy Ballard. The Mountaineers Books, Seattle. ISBN 0898869021
Angela and Duffy Ballard are early in a relationship when they decide to hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail together. This book, the story of that hike, could have easily slipped into the old and tired formula employed by most long distance hiking books. Except (surprise!) this one doesn't. They are both good writers and innovative too, bringing to Blistered a new and fresh approach. What makes this book work is the yin and yang of the two. Each has written alternating chapters--and that sets up a wonderful interplay of gender perspective as they deal with the rigors of life and the trail on their long journey northward.
History/Biography Category. Winner. Ways to the Sky: A Historical Guide to North American Mountaineering. By Andy Selters. American Alpine Club Press, Golden, Colorado. ISBN 0930410831
Author Andy Selters and the American Alpine Club deserve a big round of applause for this new and significant work in the outdoor field. Tackling a subject as broad and diverse as the history of North American mountaineering is no easy task, easily ranking up there with making a winter attempt on Denali. But Selters was up to the task and carried it off with aplomb. Backing up Selters' painstakingly researched--and very readable text--are a wonderful selection of historic photos. Rounding off an already first-rate effort, Ways to the Sky, is also part guide book, including several mini-chapters which picture and describe climbing routes dating from the era under discussion.
Design and Artistic Merit Category. Winner. Edge of the Earth, Corner of the Sky. Photography by Art Wolfe. Essays by Art Davidson. Wildlands Press, Seattle. ISBN 0967591821
Nine years in the making and photographed on seven continents, Edge of the Earth showcases an artist at the peak of his powers. While largely known for his striking wildlife photography, Art Wolfe proves in this volume that he is equally adept at capturing natural landscapes. Wolfe hopes that his work will motivate others to protect wild lands whose destruction he has witnessed first hand. Perhaps, that's why the book's images are so haunting: places of temporal beauty, living on borrowed time in a world ever hungry for land and resources.
Design and Artistic Merit Category. Winner. The Mountains Know Arizona. Photographs by Michael Collier. Text by Rose Houk. Designed by Mary Winkelmann Velgos. Arizona Highways, Phoenix. ISBN 1893860876
This book started with a wish that would have been difficult to achieve under any circumstances: tell the story of Arizona through the perspective of its mountain ranges. Arizona, after all, is a desert state. But photographer Michael Collier and writer Rose Houk did just that. From seven of Arizona's mountain ranges, we learn something of the state's first inhabitants, its settlers and fortune seekers, its diversity of landforms and ecosystems, and even something of contemporary life. This is a stylish and satisfying book and a testament to a wish come true.
Classic Category. Winner. Walden. By Henry David Thoreau. Edited by Jeffrey S. Cramer. Yale University Press, New Haven. ISBN 0300104669
There is absolutely no question about Henry David Thoreau's Walden. Walden is a literary and outdoor classic. Knowingly and unknowingly, many of the reasons that people offer these days why they participate in outdoor activities can be traced to the pages of Walden. "Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity," wrote Thoreau. Indeed, in part, we enjoy outdoor activities because they allow us to get away from the rush of modern society and simplify our lives--even if it is just for a few days. For all its impact on the literary and outdoor worlds, however, Walden is not an easy book to read. That's why this new annotated version, edited by Thoreau scholar Jeffrey S. Cramer, is so invaluable. Cramer's explanatory notes accompanying Thoreau's text help readers understand the richness of his writing--and why Walden is truly a great work of art.
Children's Category. Winner. Whose Garden Is It? By Mary Ann Hoberman. Illustrated by Jane Dyer. Harcourt, New York. ISBN 0152026312
Who owns that beautiful garden blooming with every color of the rainbow? The gardener says it belongs to him. But the woodchuck insists it's his. And so does the rabbit, the butterfly, and the little squash bug. This lovingly done book does what all good children's books should do: it stimulates thought, and through words and illustrations, it asks youngsters to reach their own conclusion to that pressing question: who really owns that garden? (For ages 3-7.)
Nature Guidebook Category. Winner. Dragonflies of the North Woods. By Kurt Mead. Kollath-Stensaas Publishing, Duluth, Minnesota. ISBN 0967379369
Who doesn't love dragonflies as they flit and flutter about on a warm summer day? Certainly Kurt Mead is smitten. He is the author of this new and exceptionally useful identification guide. Considerable thought has gone into the design of this compact guidebook: sharp and colorful photos, easy-to-use field markings, habitat information, natural history notes, sizing scales, sighting frequencies, and . . . well, you get the picture. It's a darn good little guide.
Outdoor Adventure Guidebook Category. Winner. 100 Classic Hikes in Oregon. By Douglas Lorain. The Mountaineers Books, Seattle. ISBN 0898869633
You can always tell when a guidebook author knows his stuff. Douglas Lorain, who literally lives on the trail, was the perfect person to author this book. Combined with a stylish design, full color photographs, and very useable maps, this is the cream of the crop of this year's guide books.
Instructional Category. Winner. Rock Climbing: Mastering the Basic Skills. By Craig Luebben. The Mountaineers Books, Seattle. ISBN 0898867436
Looking for an up-to-date and reliable instructional book on climbing? Look no further. Long time guide and instructor, Craig Luebben takes you through the paces, covering top roping, sport climbing, traditional climbing and bouldering. A lucid text is amply supplemented with instructive photographs, understandable illustrations and a clean and crisp design.
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Honorable Mention Medallion