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Celebrate Nebraska’s 2021 Book Award Winners

September 15, 2021

Tessa Terry

Celebrate Nebraska’s 2021 Book Award Winners

Celebrate Nebraska’s 2021 Book Award winners with author readings and an awards presentation ceremony at the Nebraska Center for the Book’s Celebration of Nebraska Books. Held at the Nebraska History Museum on October 23rd, winners of the 2021 Nebraska Book Awards will be honored and the celebration will include readings by some of the winning authors, designers and illustrators of books with a Nebraska connection published in 2020. And the winners are:

Children’s Picture Book: Letters from Space by Clayton Anderson, Illustrated by Susan Batori. Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Design: Sy’s Barbershop and Pool Hall: New and Selected Poems and Paintings by Jay D. Gerber. Publisher: Infusionmedia

Illustration: Lily Discovers People are Like Donuts by Rob Otte, Illustrated by Carey Goddard. Publisher: Jelly Donut Publishing

Illustration Honor: The Day We Went to the Park by Linda Stephen and Christine Manno, origami artwork by Linda Stephen. Publisher: Handersen Publishing

Fiction: The Brightest Place in the World by David Philip Mullins. Publisher: University of Nevada Press

Nonfiction Legal History: A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War by William G. Thomas III. Publisher: Yale University Press

Nonfiction Memoir: Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir of a Crime by Debora Harding. Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Nonfiction Memoir Honor: Yards After Contact – Team Jack: Scoring a Touchdown Against Childhood Brain Cancer by Andrew Hoffman, foreword by Rex Burkhead. Publisher: Nico 11 Publishing and Design

Nonfiction Military History: A Mighty Force for Peace: A History of the Former Lincoln Air Force Base by Robert M. Branting. Publisher: Infusionmedia

Nonfiction Nebraska History: Never Caught Twice: Horse Stealing in Western Nebraska, 1850-1890 by Matthew S. Luckett. Publisher: University of Nebraska Press

Nonfiction Nebraska as Place: Cut in Stone, Cast in Bronze: Nebraska’s Historical Markers and Monuments, 1854-1967 by Jeff Barnes. Publisher: The Donning Company Publishers

Nonfiction Solidarity: American Harvest: God, Country, and Farming in the Heartland by Marie Mutsuki Mockett. Publisher: Graywolf Press

Nonfiction Urban History: My Omaha Obsession: Searching for the City by Miss Cassette, foreword by Chris Ware. Publisher: Bison Books

Poetry: Two-Toned Dress Lucy Adkins. Publisher: Blue Light Press

Poetry Honor: Forever War by Kate Gaskin. Publisher: YesYes Books

The Celebration of Nebraska Books, on October 23rd, will also honor winners of the 2021 Jane Geske and Mildred Bennett awards. The Mildred Bennett Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to fostering the literary tradition in Nebraska, reminding us of the literary and intellectual heritage that enriches our lives and molds our world. The Jane Geske Award is presented to a Nebraska organization for exceptional contribution to literacy, books, reading, libraries, or literature in Nebraska. It commemorates Geske’s passion for books, and was established in recognition of her contributions to the well-being of the libraries of Nebraska.

The 2021 One Book One Nebraska selection, Prairie Forge: The Extraordinary Story of the Nebraska Scrap Metal Drive of World War II by James J. Kimble (Bison Books, 2014) will be featured in a keynote presentation by the author. The introduction of the 2022 One Book One Nebraska book choice will conclude the festivities.

The Celebration of Nebraska Books is sponsored by Nebraska Center for the Book and the Nebraska Library Commission, with support from History Nebraska’s Nebraska History Museum. Humanities Nebraska provides support for One Book One Nebraska. The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the national Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, “bringing together people and information.”


The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.    

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Welcome to the 2020 Virtual Celebration of Nebraska Books!

Our Nebraska State Poet, Matt Mason, opens our online event and will be introducing all of our speakers and award winners. In this opening video, we will hear from Nebraska Center for the Book board member, Rebecca Faber, giving our keynote presentation on the 2020 One Book One Nebraska selection “All the Gallant Men: An American Sailor’s Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor” (William Morrow, 2016) written by Donald Stratton with Ken Gire. The One Book One Nebraska presentation is supported by Humanities Nebraska.

The 2020 Jane Pope Geske Award

Join Matt Mason, as he presents the 2020 Jane Geske Award for exceptional literary contributions, to The UNL Center for Digital Research in the Humanities.

The 2020 Mildred Bennett Award

Join Matt Mason as he presents the 2020 Mildred Bennett Award for exceptional literary contributions by an individual to Kimberly Verhines!

2020 Nebraska Book Award Winners- Children’s Picture Books

State Poet, Matt Mason introduces the 2020 Nebraska Book Award winners for Children’s Picture Books. Hear from winning author Preston Love, for his Children’s Picture Book, “Your Bridge to History” written by Portia Love and Preston Love, Illustrated by Regina Jeanpierre (Preston Publishing, 2019.) The Nebraska Book Awards program, sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book (NCB), recognizes and honors books that are written by Nebraska authors, published by Nebraska publishers, set in Nebraska, or concerning Nebraska.

2020 Nebraska Book Award Winner – Cover, Design, and Illustration

State Poet, Matt Mason introduces the 2020 Nebraska Book Award winner for the Cover, Design, and Illustration category. Hear from winning author Debra Kleve White, for her book, “The Spirit of Nebraska: A History of Husker Game Day Traditions – The Tunnel Walk, Mascots, Cheer, and More” design by Concierge Marketing and Publishing Services (Cheerful Books, 2019.)

The 2020 Nebraska Book Award Winners – Fiction

Matt Mason introduces the 2020 Nebraska Book Award winners in the Fiction category. Hear from winning authors Faith Colburn, for her novel, “See Willy See” (Prairie Wind Press, 2019) and Fiction Honor Series winner, Tosca Lee, for her novels “The Line Between: A Thriller” and “A Single Light: A Thriller” (Howard Books, 2019.)

The 2020 Book Award Winners – Poetry

Matt Mason introduces the 2020 Nebraska Book Award winners for Poetry. Hear from winning authors Sarah McKinstry-Brown, for her poetry book, “This Bright Darkness” (Black Lawrence Press, 2019.) and Mark Sanders, winner of a Poetry Honor Award for his book “In a Good Time” (WSC Press, 2019.)

The 2020 Nebraska Books Award Winners – Nonfiction

Matt Mason introduces the 2020 Nebraska Book Award winners in the Nonfiction category. Hear from winning author Carson Vaughan, winner of the Investigative Journalism Award for his book, “Zoo Nebraska: Dismantling of an American Dream” (Little A, 2019.) and Larkin Powell, winner of the Nature Reference Award for his book “Great Plains Birds: Discover the Great Plains” (Bison Books, 2019.)

The 2020 Nebraska Book Award Winners – Nonfiction

Matt Mason introduces more of the 2020 Nebraska Book Award winners for Nonfiction. Hear from winning authors Steve Marantz, winner of the Immigration story Award, for his book, “Citizen Akoy: Basketball and the Making of a South Sudanese American” (University of Nebraska Press, 2019) and Marilyn Irvin Holt, winner of a the Nebraska Perseverance Award for her book “Nebraska During the New Deal: The Federal Writers’ Project in the Cornhusker State” (Bison Books, 2019.)

2021 One Book One Nebraska Announcement & Closing

Join Matt Mason, Rebecca Faber, and Christine Walsh in the final session of the 2020 Celebration of Nebraska Books, as they announce the selection for the 2021 One Book One Nebraska.

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