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The National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA) is the outdoor world's largest and most prestigious book award program. It is a non-profit, educational program, sponsored by the NOBA Foundation, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, and Idaho State University.
The purpose of the Awards is to recognize and encourage outstanding writing and publishing. Each fall in early November, the NOBA Foundation announces the winners of the nine categories making up the program, including History, Literature, Children, Nature, Instructional, Adventure Guidebook, Nature Guidebook, Design, and Outdoor Classic.
The program has very high standards of fairness and objectivity and has no connection whatsoever to any publisher or publishing business interest. The winners are chosen by a panel of judges consisting of educators, academics, book reviewers, authors, editors, and outdoor columnists from throughout the country.
Winner. Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America. By Douglas Brinkley. Harper, New York. ISBN 9780060565282
Wilderness Warrior is an impeccably researched and thoroughly engrossing work on the one figure in history who set aside more of America's outdoor heritage than any other. Much has been written about Theodore Roosevelt, but in this ground-breaking, 940-page biography, Douglas Brinkley concentrates on Roosevelt the outdoorsman and conservationist, and in doing so, paints a vibrant portrait, as vibrant as the man himself. One word describes it all: bully!
Order from Amazon.com
Winner. Halfway to Heaven. By Mark Obmascik. Free
Press/Simon & Schuster, New York. ISBN 9781416566991
In this fun, humorous, and warm-hearted story, Mark Obmascik sets out to climb all of Colorado's 14,000-foot mountains. But Obmascik, the father of three sons, has a problem. He is overweight and utterly out of shape. To get ready, he joins a spin class of mostly perimenopausal women. When he begins to slack off, the women prod him into keeping at it. He reciprocates by adjusting the wall fans for them when hot flashes hit. Then summer comes, and off he goes, chasing his dream to climb all 54 summits. It's a rollicking, non-stop adventure with an all-star cast of eccentrics and fanatics. But�does he make it? You'll find out in this delightfully and devilishly clever book.
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Honorable Mention. Rowboat in a Hurricane: My Amazing Journey Across a Changing Ocean. By Julie Angus. Greystone Books, Vancouver. ISBN 9781553653370
In this riveting, true story, author Julie Angus, and her fianc�e set out from Portugal in a 23-foot boat made from quarter inch plywood. Their goal: to row across the dangerous and capricious Atlantic ocean from Europe to Central America, a mere 6,000 miles. They row 16 hours a day, each rowing for 2-hour shifts. For 145 days they keep up this grueling routine. But there's more than interminable rowing. It's the same year as Hurricane Katrina and the Atlantic is seething with tropical storms. Their path takes them directly into the storms' midst.
Winner. Lars Jonsson's Birds. Illustrations by Lars Jonsson. Princeton University Press, Princeton. ISBN 9780691141510
Avian lovers have always known that paintings bring out the true beauty of birds. One of the masters of this specialized art form is Lars Jonsson who lives on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea and is well known for his illustrated field guides to European birds. In this book Jonsson's prowess as a wildlife artist is in full display in the form of sketches, watercolors, oil paintings and lithographs. Explanatory text and commentary by Jonsson accompanies his captivating art.
Winner. Kayak: The New Frontier. By William Nealy. Menasha Ridge Press, Birmingham. ISBN 9780897325899
It is unfortunate that William Nealy left us so early. When he died in 2001, he was still young, at the height of his creative genus, and well established as the outdoor world's most famous cartoonist. His work was as zany and outrageous as it was smart and insightful. His best known book is Kayak which sold over 300,000 copies and was translated into five languages. And now Kayak is back. Thanks to Menasha Ridge Press, Kayak lives on with the release of a newly updated edition, just in time to entertain a new generation of paddlers.
Honorable Mention. Appalachian Odyssey: Walking the Trail from Georgia to Maine. By Steve Sherman and Julia Older. Author's Guild, New York. ISBN 9781440115301
We'll let the words of the late Edward Abbey speak on behalf of Appalachian Odyssey, first published in the 1970's: "It's a good book" he wrote in the preface. "In it you'll find everything you ever wanted to know about hiking the Great Hike. Everything and then some—none of the misery has been left out, none of the tedium, none of the chiggers, snakes, mosquitoes or odd-ball hikers, and none of the glory, exaltation and satisfaction either."
Winner. Whistling Wings. By Laura Goering. Illustrated by Laura Jacques. Sylvan Dell Publishing, Mt Pleasant, SC. ISBN 9781934359303
Whistling Wings is an eye-catching book for the 5-9 age group. Laura Goering's warm and inviting story combined with Laura Jacques luminous illustrations make this a winner for parents and children alike. It's about Marcel, a tundra swan. Marcel is flying south and stops at an inviting lake for food and rest. Still tired, he hides in the rushes as his parents and the other swans take off, leaving him behind. At first he's fine, but soon the lake begins to freeze and he finds himself in trouble. Hungry and scared, he falls asleep only to be awakened by a big surprise.
Honorable Mention. Operation Redwood. By S. Terrell French. Abrams/Amulet Books, New York. ISBN 9780810983540
Boys and girls of the pre-teen years will love this fast-paced novel. Quiet and studious Julian Carter-Li suddenly finds himself caught up in a fight to save some of the oldest trees on earth—and guess who he's up against: his powerful and greedy uncle Sibley and his wicked Aunt Daphne. Julian comes to the aid of Robin, a girl about his age who lives near the redwoods. As the story races along, the two discover important values of trust, honesty and commitment to a cause.
Winner. Our Living Earth. By Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Abrams/Books for Young Readers, New York. ISBN 9780810971325
Our Living Earth is a striking, large format book for readers of the teenage years. The book thoughtfully answers two questions: what does it mean to go green? And what can young people do to help protect life on earth? It's a world-wide look at environmental problems and potential solutions. Filled with Yann Arthus-Betrand's vivid photographs and supplemented with concise and instructive text, the book is sure to capture the attention of budding environmentalists and inspire them to do what they can to help the planet.
Honorable Mention. Sand: The Never Ending Story. By Michael Welland. University of California Press. Berkeley. ISBN 9780520254374
Sand? Is it really possible to write a book about sand? Indeed it is, and geologist Michael Welland is the perfect one to do it. Welland combines his natural story telling talents with a scientific background to weave together a fascinating account of nature's most ubiquitous substance.
Winner. Every Living Thing: Man's Obsessive Quest to Catalog Life, from Nanobacteria to New Monkeys. By Rob Dunn. Smithsonian Books. New York. ISBN 9780061430305
Fashioning a series of vivid portraits of driven, single-minded scientists, Dun traces the history of human discovery. Vignettes range from the establishment of a classification system, to a scientist's attempt to discover a rare ant, to another's quest to find every living thing in a jungle in Costa Rica. It's poetic, often humorous and filled with insight on the breakthroughs of the study of life.
Winner. Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America. By Roger Tory Peterson. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston. ISBN 9780618966141
The Peterson Field Guides have been around for some time, but this new edition, released in the centennial year of Peterson's birth, conveniently combines his eastern and western guidebooks into one volume. The book includes 40 new paintings, newly rendered maps and updated text. It's all bundled into a first class package and is most certainly the bird watcher's bible.
Honorable Mention. Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West. By Dennis Paulson. Princeton University Press. Princeton. ISBN 9780691122816
This is the first guidebook to all 348 species of dragonflies and damselflies found in western North America. Nicely sized and fully illustrated, the guide is perfect for use in the field. Almost every species is illustrated with photographs of both male and female members. Accompanying text includes natural history tidbits, habitat, range, flight season, and the all-important structural identifiers.
Winner. Guide to the Green and Yampa Rivers in Dinosaur National Monument. By Duwain Whitis and Barbara Vinson. RiverMaps, Buda, TX. ISBN 9870981935913
The Guide to the Green and Yampa Rivers is the newest member of an exceptional series of guidebooks published under the RiverMaps imprint. Everything about this guidebook is useful and practical from its tough, waterproof paper to its clear and thoughtful lay-out. Open it to any page, and on one side are concise and accurate descriptions of rapids, campsites and features of interest. On the facing page, positioned to match the text, are full-sized 7.5 minute topographic maps that you can read from the seat of your boat.
Honorable Mention. The Guide to Baja Sea Kayaking. By Dave Eckardt. Paddle Publishing, Eagle, CO. ISBN 97809645839914
Ah Baja! The sea kayaker's paradise. When the day comes and when you're ready to head out to paradise, this is the guidebook to take. It covers a total of 1,500 miles of Baja shoreline and describes the circumnavigation of 30 islands. All of the trips are neatly overlaid on crisp Landsat satellite photos.
Winner. Girl on the Rocks: A Woman's Guide to Climbing with Strength, Grace and Courage. By Katie Brown. Photos by Ben Moon. Globe Pequot Press/Falcon Guides, Guilford, CN. ISBN 9780762745180
Katie Brown is one of the foremost female climbers in the world and couldn't be better suited to write this book. It's a very well done "how-to" guide, embellished with a classy, contemporary design and crisp I-wanna-do-that photographs. What's so appealing about this book is that it speaks to women with a woman's voice. Climbing, as Brown says is empowering, and through her words and example, she inspires women to try new things, live a full life and climb away.
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.
Natalie Bartley, Boise, ID
Idaho Outdoors columnist for the Idaho Statesman, adjunct faculty at Boise State University, certified Nordic ski instructor, and active member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Doctorate in Recreation and Leisure Services from University of Utah.
Kelley Coburn, Victor, ID
Botanist, illustrator and writer. Author of The Trail to Table Mountain: A Location Based Guide to 186 Plants found in the Teton/Yellowstone Area.
Val Cunningham, St. Paul, MN
Naturalist, freelance writer and editor. Author of The Gardener's Hummingbird Book. Regular columnist for Outdoor News. Contributor of articles to local, regional and national nature and bird-oriented publications.
Dave Devoe, Walhalla, SC
Vice President and co-founder of emapstore.com specializing in maps and outdoor and travel books. Licensed South Carolina and Georgia geologist. Former environmental geology consultant.
Susanne Dubrouillet, State College, PA
Program Director at Penn State University Shaver's Creek Environmental Center. Oversees wilderness orientation programs, teaches adventure programming and outdoor leadership courses and directs community service orientation programs. Past program director with Clemson University's Clemson Expeditions. Masters of Education in Outdoor Education.
Laura Erickson, Ithaca, NY.
Ornithologist (1,000 birds on her life list), contributing writer for Minneapolis Star-Tribune and The Country Today. 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.
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 Fullerton, Pocatello, ID
Former Outdoor Program Director at University of Nebraska. Past President of the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education. Current Leadership Program Director at Idaho State University.
Dale Harrington, Boone, NC
Biology instructor at Caldwell Community College. Trip leader and naturalist 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, Oak Park, CA
Editor of Summit: The Photographs of Vittorio Sella, 1879-1909. Organized a subsequent photographic exhibition of Sella's mountain photography. Leader of the 1998 Siniolchu Himalayan Expedition. For 10 years has been the "art guy" at the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival.
Rodney Ley, Fort Collins, CO
Director for Outdoor Adventure, Campus Recreation at Colorado State University. Columnist for local Gannett newspaper, ten years of retail outdoor experience and founder of a backcountry ski yurt system.
James Moss, Littleton, CO
Editor, Outdoor Recreation & Fitness Law Review. Outdoor Industry Attorney, author (Lawyer's Adviser), organizes outdoor liability workshops for such groups as the Western River Guides, Boy Scouts of America, Wilderness Education Association and federal land agencies.
Tom Mullin, Unity ME
Fellow of the National Association for Interpretation and currently on its Board of Directors. Director, Center for Natural Resource Management and Protection. Associate Professor of Parks, Recreation and Ecotourism . 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 Manager for the Wyoming Outdoor Council. Her book Condors in Canyon Country was the winner of the Nature and Environment in the National Outdoor Book Awards.
Jim Paruk, Ashland, WI.
Professor of Biology at Northland College. Doctoral dissertation on the behavioral ecology of the Common Loon. Author of Sierra Nevada: Tree Identifier and is currently working on a collection of nature writings.
Tammie L. Stenger, Bowling Green, KY
Assistant Professor of Leisure Studies at Western Kentucky University. Teaches outdoor leadership and outdoor education courses. Board member of 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.) Formally, Director of the Idaho State University Outdoor Program (25 years).
Melanie Wulf, Geneva, IL
Full-time mom. Former director of the Outdoor Program at Texas Tech University in Lubbock (5 years). Presently working in outdoor retail at REI-Oakbrook. Masters in Outdoor Education (Northern Illinois University).
A new groundbreaking biography on Theodore Roosevelt is the winner of the history-biography category in this year's National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA).
Entitled "Wilderness Warrior," the book is by historian Douglas Brinkley.
"No doubt about this one." said Ron Watters, Chairman of the National Outdoor Books Awards. "It's a winner. Not only is Brinkley's book well written and impeccably researched, it sheds new information on Roosevelt's work to protect our nation's outdoor heritage."
"Wilderness Warrior" is one of several winners in the 2009 National Outdoor Book Awards.
The winners of this annual award program represent some of the finest outdoor writing and artwork being published today. The awards program is sponsored by the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Idaho State University and the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.
Awards are given in ten individual categories.
"The list of this year's winners is as varied as it is impressive," said Watters who is a professor emeritus at Idaho State University. "Brinkley's serious and rigorous historical work is balanced by a light and humorous book on climbing Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks."
The Colorado book is called "Halfway to Heaven" and received top honors in the Literature Category. It is about author Mark Obmascik's dream to climb Colorado's highest peaks.
While most people take years to reach all 54 summits, Obmascik decides to climb all of them in one summer. Obmascik, however, has a problem. He is overweight and utterly out of shape.
Nonetheless, he heads out on a rollicking, non-stop adventure with an all-star cast of eccentrics and fanatics.
The most adventurous story among this year's NOBA winners is "Rowboat in a Hurricane" by Canadian author Julie Angus. In this riveting, true life adventure, Angus and her fianc�e set out on a 6,000 mile journey to row across the Atlantic.
It is the same year as Hurricane Katrina and the Atlantic is seething with tropical storms. Their path takes them directly into the storms' midst. "This one will keep you on the edge of your seat," said Watters. "It's truly a book that you won't be able to put down."
Bird watchers will find much to savor among this year winners.
A stunning collection of bird paintings by the master artist and ornithologist Lars Jonsson won the Design and Artistic Merit Category. "Lars Jonsson's Birds" includes sketches, watercolors, oil paintings, lithographs, and commentary by the artist.
A new edition of Roger Tory Peterson's classic field guide, the "Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America" won the Nature Guidebook Category. The book conveniently combines his eastern and western guidebooks into one volume.
And finally little bird lovers, particularly those between the ages of five and nine, will enjoy the winner of the Children's Category "Whistling Wings." It's a sweet bedtime story about Marcel, a young tundra swan who is flying south for the winter.
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