NOBA Medallion

Winners of the 2011
 National Outdoor Book Awards











 Classic Category

First Summer in the SierraWinner.  The Works of John Muir.  (Including titles such as My First Summer in the Sierra, Stikeen, Steep Trails and others) 

My First Summer in the Sierra:  100th Anniversary Illustrated Edition of the American Classic.  By John Muir.  Photographs by Scot Miller.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston.  ISBN 9780618988518

This year, with the submission of My First Summer in the Sierra by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the judges decided to take the opportunity to honor the writings of John Muir and the monumental contributions he made toward preserving the American outdoor heritage.  John Muir who died in 1914 published six books during his lifetime.  Additional books and collections of his writings have been published since then.  Muir’s prolific pen and his activism helped save such American treasures as Yosemite National Park, and he is truly one of the great wilderness figures of all time.

This new edition of My Summer in the Sierra celebrates the 100th anniversary of the book’s first publication.  Beautifully illustrated with photographs by Scot Miller, this is perhaps the best loved of all of Muir’s books.  Written in journal style and covering his travels in the high Sierra of 1869, it is a work of personal discovery: discovery of the natural world, of flora and fauna, and of the geological processes which shaped the soaring heights of Yosemite Valley.  But it goes deeper than simple observation.  This is Muir, after all.  His thoughts lead him toward the concept of the interconnectivity among all living things.  In time, this idea will become a part of his litany for the preservation of wild areas.  Muir can hardly contain his excitement, especially when expressing the beauty of nature, and his writing brims with religious intensity.  He is, in fact, a religious figure, an evangelist for the wild outdoors, and because of his writing and his work, we are all the richer for it.

 Natural History Literature  

Salvaging FloridaWinner. Salvaging the Real Florida:  Lost and Found in the State of Dreams.  By Bill Belleville.  University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL.  ISBN 9780813035772

Bill Belleville is the sort of guy that you’d want as a companion on an outdoor trip.  He has a child-like curiosity and wonder that is catchy—and he can tell a pretty good story to boot.  He is also very much a mature and accomplished author, and his writing is an absolute pleasure to read.  This collection of essays, full of hidden gems and wonderful insights, never disappoints.  We saunter along with him throughout Florida on hikes, paddles and dives—and through lagoons, forests, swamps, and under coastal waters.  Pick up a copy, settle back with a glass of backwoods sweet tea, and enjoy a spirited ride through Florida’s natural world.

Outdoor Literature  

Fire SeasonWinner.  Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout.  By Philip Connors.  HarperCollins, New York.  ISBN 9780061856366

In this sensitive and elegant work, Philip Connors mans a fire lookout overlooking the Gila Wilderness, the first established wilderness area in the US.  It’s a perfect place, in more than one respect, to write and reflect on wild places and why such places are important in civilized life—and he does so with an honesty and understanding which is remarkable for its depth of thought and insight.  Connors finds himself among some pretty heavy company:  Edward Abbey, Jack Kerouac, Norman Maclean, and Gary Snyder all wrote about their experiences on fire lookouts.  This is Connors first work, but if these literary forbearers could somehow manage to unite for a little backcountry revelry, it’s not hard to imagine them inviting him over and raising a toast to Fire Season.

Nature and the Environment

Seeing TreesWinner.  Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees.  By Nancy Ross Hugo.  Photography by Robert Llewellyn.  Timber Press, Portland.  ISBN  9781604692198

Author Nancy Ross Hugo is smitten with trees.  In fact she’ll unabashedly tell you that tree viewing is as exciting as bird-watching.  And you’ll see why.  Just spend a little time paging through this book—sample a bit of Hugo’s personable and insightful writing, absorb Robert Llewellyn’s splendid photography—and it becomes clear.  What this book does differently than many is to examine trees in a close up and personal manner:  the resplendent emerging leaves of a white oak, the secreted and graceful immature seed pods of the redbud, the thrilling appearance of a red cedar flower.  This striking and delightful book will draw your eyes upward toward the world of leaves and entwining branches, and like Hugo, you may find yourself smitten and thrilled by what you see.

 Design & Artistic Merit 

Raptors of the WestWinner.  Raptors of the West Captured in Photographs.  By Kate Davis, Rob Palmer and Nick Dunlop.  Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, MT  ISBN 9780878425754

This is a book of action photography and it will rock your socks!  The cover draws you in immediately:  two bald eagles, talons spread and about to lock, one above and one below upside down, yellow eyes glaring:  the tumbling, breathtaking violence of a fight over food captured in a timeless manner.  Raptors is a type of book that you can read in parts when time permits.  By design, there’s no overarching text, rather each of the photos have instructive captions which explain the behavior pictured.  Quite simply, it’s among some of the best action bird photography ever published.

 Children's Category

Secret LivesWinner. The Secret Lives of Backyard Bugs.  By Judy Burris and Wayne Richards.  Storey Publishing, North Adams, MA.  ISBN 9781603425636

Judy Burris and brother and photographer Wayne Richards are into bugs.  What sort of bugs?  Let’s see.  There are grasshoppers, beetles, butterflies, dragonflies, spiders, crickets and more.  All of these creatures are shown in close-up photographs, each showing different stages of the bug’s life cycle.  Clear and understandable explanations accompany each new section.  This is the perfect nature guidebook for children, and it will help lead and instruct them through the fascinating world just outside their doors. Age group:  8 to 13 years. 


To MarketWinner. To Market, To Market.  By Nikki McClure.  Abrams Books for Young Readers, New York.  ISBN 9780810997387

Nikki McClure is a master of the cut-paper technique and she uses it with unblemished effect in her new book To Market, To Market.  The story that unfolds in the book is about a bustling farmers market.  A young boy and his mother shop for apples and cheese, and salmon and greens.  As they go about the market, the farmers explain how they grow the items they sell—and the skill and work that goes into it.  Finally with their basket full, the boy and his mother return home, and all of the members of the family join in a feast celebrating good, healthy food and the farmers that make it possible.  Age group: 4 to 8 years.

 History / Biography

Take a SeatWinner. Take a Seat:  One Man, One Tandem and Twenty Thousand Miles of Possibilities.  By Dominic Gill.  Falcon Guides.  Guilford, CN.  ISBN 9780762770694

Dominic Gill planned to bicycle from Alaska to the southern tip of South America.  Before leaving on the journey, a film producer suggested that he use a tandem bike as a way of spicing things up, making the trip more interesting.  Gill thought the idea ridiculous.  But when Gill wobbled off at the beginning of his journey on a grey, cold day in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, the shiny new bike he was riding was a tandem.  As the trip progressed, at points here and there, he would invite strangers that he met to join him.  Sure enough, many took him up on it, adding their energy to his.  Some rode with him a few miles, some rode for many days.  In the process strangers became friends.  Take a Seat is Gill’s engaging story of his two-year-long journey and the friends that helped him along the way.


Empire of IceHonorable Mention.  An Empire of Ice:  Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science.  By Edward J. Larson.  Yale University Press.  New Haven.  ISBN 9780300154085

In An Empire of Ice author Edward Larson takes a different tact than most literature of the genre.  He chronicles British expeditions to Antarctica—doing it quite well—but he does it from a scientific perspective.  Scientific discovery was, after all, a main justification for polar exploration and it helped in raising the funding necessary for efforts of the size and magnitude involved.  Consequently, considerable scientific research was undertaken on the expeditions and the body of science benefited.  Larson adeptly describes the research, the obstacles faced by scientists, their failures and achievements, and handily places early twentieth century exploration in a broader, more far-reaching perspective.

Nature Guidebook Category

Naturally CuriousWinner.  Naturally Curious: A Photographic Field Guide through the Fields, Woods and Marshes of New England.  By Mary Holland.  Trafalger Square Books, North Pomfret, VT.  ISBN 9781570764257

Naturally Curious is a marvelous new nature guide.  And quite naturally, it’s by Mary Holland, one of the East’s most seasoned naturalists.  She’s also something of a Renaissance woman: educator, advocate, columnist, and photographer.  In fact, all 900 color photographs in Naturally Curious are Holland’s.  What makes this guide stand out is the way it’s organized.  Starting in March, with the first signs of spring, it covers the changes in the natural world, on a month to month basis.  You can’t go wrong with this guidebook.  It’s one that you’ll use over and over—naturally.

 Outdoor Adventure Guidebook Category

Rio GrandeWinner. The Rio Grande: A River Guide to the Geology and Landscapes of Northern New Mexico.  By Paul W. Bauer.  New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, Socorro, NM.  ISBN 9781883905286

This colorful and remarkably well done guide, covering 153 miles of the Rio Grande, is packed full of information for flatwater and whitewater paddlers.  But it’s not just for river runners.  Hikers, anglers and cyclists will also find it invaluable in their trips to Rio Grande country.  The maps are first rate.  They were developed from an aerial photo base and use a blend of colors and shaded relief to make the river topography stand out.  The geological information, both textual and illustrative, is some of the best the judges have seen in a river guide.


 Instructional Category  

Cycling BibleWinner.  The Cycling Bible:  The Complete Guide for all Cyclists from Novice to Expert.  By Robin Barton.  Falcon Guides, Guilford, CN.  ISBN  9780762769995

The title of Robin Barton’s 350-page work couldn’t be more apt: it is, indeed, a bible, covering all aspects of cycling from recreational riding to road racing to mountain biking.  Nicely designed and filled with crisp, instructive color photographs, the Bible includes up-to-date information on equipment, step-by-step tutorials on cycling technique, sage advice on safety and fitness, helpful hints on maintenance and repairs, and great rides throughout the world. 

Official NOBA reviews prepared by Ron Watters.  Reviews are based on comments and insights provided by members of the judging panels.  A special thanks to Katherine Daly for her editorial work. 


End of Listing: 2011 National Outdoor Book Awards



Natalie Bartley, Boise, ID
Freelance outdoor columnist for the Idaho Statesman, certified Nordic ski instructor, and active member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Doctorate in Recreation and Leisure Services from University of Utah. Author of two outdoor guidebooks Best Easy Day Hikes Boise and Best Rail Trails Pacific Northwest: Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, and the mobile app travel guide Boise's Best Outdoor Adventures.

Val Cunningham, St. Paul, MN
Naturalist, freelance writer and editor, leads local bird hikes and conducts bird surveys for Audubon. Author of The Gardener's Hummingbird Book. Regular columnist for Outdoor News and Minneapolis StarTribune.  Writes for local, regional and national nature and bird-oriented publications.

Dave Devoe, Walhalla, SC
Vice President and co-founder of specializing in maps and outdoor and travel books. Licensed South Carolina and Georgia geologist. Former environmental geology consultant.

Laura Erickson, Duluth, MN
Ornithologist (1,400 birds on her life list), contributing writer for Cornell Lab of Ornithology and The Country Today. Author of five books.  Winner of the 1997 National Outdoor Book Award for her work Sharing the Wonder of Birds with Kids—and Dave Barry's bird and tapeworm advisor.

Liam Guilar, Queensland, Australia
Writer, poet, musician and whitewater kayaker.  Made one of the first kayaking forays into what was Soviet Central Asia and then spent years exploring white water in Indonesia.  Liam's reading material on kayaking outings has been known to include Beowulf, Paston Letters, and nineteenth century novels.

Steve Guthrie, Lock Haven, PA
Assistant Professor in Outdoor Recreation Management at Lock Haven University. Former President, of the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education. Journal Advisory Board for Journal of Experiential Education. Former outdoor program coordinator, University of Nebraska at Omaha. Co-author of Outdoor Recreation in America.

Jim & Sara Fullerton, St. Simons Island, GA
Past president of the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.  Doctorate in Human Sciences from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Assistant Professor for management and leadership development at the College of Coastal Georgia. Twenty years experience as an outdoor adventure leader. His wife Sara who assists with judging the children's category is a former elementary school teacher and worked in a children's bookstore.

Dale Harrington, Boone, NC
Biology instructor at Caldwell Community College.  Naturalist.  Former trip leader for Appalachian State University.  Avid mountaineer and hiker.

Rob Jones, Salt Lake City, UT
Director of the University of Utah Outdoor Recreation Program. Former president Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education. Certified Utah river guide and Leave No Trace Master Educator.

Paul Kallmes, Berkeley, CA
Editor of Summit: The Photographs of Vittorio Sella, 1879-1909.  Organized a subsequent photographic exhibition of Sella's mountain photography.  Active climber for over 30 years.  Worked for 10 years at Mountainfilm in Telluride.

Rodney Ley, Fort Collins, CO
Director for Outdoor Programs at Colorado State University. Former outdoor columnist for Gannett newspapers.  Founder of a backcountry ski yurt system. Former board member, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.

John Miles, Bellingham, WA
Professor of Environmental Studies at Huxley College, Western Washington University.  Author of six books, most recently Wilderness in National Parks: Playground or Preserve. Former Dean of Huxley College Currently directs graduate programs at Huxley in environmental education. Teaches environmental studies, focusing on literature, history, and education.

Susanne Dubrouillet Morais,  Raleigh, NC
Instructor at North Carolina State University. Program coordinator for Geospatial Information Science and Technology, NC State. Formerly, program director and instructor at Penn State University working with recreation majors and overseeing Penn State's Wilderness Orientation Program. Past program director with Clemson University's Clemson Expeditions. Masters of Education in Outdoor Education.

James Moss, Littleton, CO
Outdoor industry attorney, risk management consultant, author and speaker.  Chair, American Alpine Club Library Committee.  Board of directors of the Galapagos Preservation Society, and Colorado Alliance of Environmental Education.  Teaches ski area risk assessment, liability and safety at Colorado Mountain College.

Tom Mullin, Unity ME
Fellow of the National Association for Interpretation.  Associate Professor of Parks and Forest Resources at Unity College. Consultant for a series of twenty Time-Life nature books. 1987 Thru-hiker of the 2,100+ mile Appalachian Trail.

Sophie Osborn, Laramie, WY
Wildlife biologist and writer. Currently the Wildlife Program Director for the Wyoming Outdoor Council. Her book Condors in Canyon Country was the winner of the 2007 National Outdoor Book Award in the Nature and Environment category.

Tammie L. Stenger-Ramsey, Bowling Green, KY
Associate Professor, Recreation Administration and Outdoor Leadership at Western Kentucky University. Leave No Trace Master Educator. American Canoe Association Canoe Instructor. Student Literary Award Coordinator for the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.

Ron Watters, Pocatello, ID
Chairman, National Outdoor Book Awards. Author of eight outdoor books (Never Turn Back, Ski Camping, The Whitewater Book, etc.) Formerly, Director of the Idaho State University Outdoor Program (25 years).

Melanie Wulf, St. Charles, IL
Former director of the Outdoor Program at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.  Masters in Outdoor Education from Northern Illinois University.  Certified Elementary and Middle School Teacher.

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