Posted November 11, 2010
Indiana Jones figures prominently among the winners of the 2010 National Outdoor Book Awards. It's not, however, the Indiana Jones of movies. It’s the Indiana Jones of the bug world.
Mark Moffett, also known as Doctor Bug, won the Nature and Environment category with his book "Adventures Among Ants."
"Moffett is no ordinary scientist," said Idaho State University’s Ron Watters, chairman of the award program. "His research on ants required days spent in steamy jungles, hanging from ropes, sleeping in huts, tents or in no shelter at all."
"This is a guy who is totally committed to his science," Watters continued. "He has had swarms of ants attack him, streaming onto his bare skin through any opening in his clothing–through his pants legs and through his sleeves and through the neck of his shirt. He has been bitten and stung countless times."
In one instance described in his book, Moffett was painfully bitten on the fingertip by an aggressive African driver ant. He tried gripping the insect between two fingers to pull it off. But the harder he gripped, the more than ant clamped down.
Finally in desperation, Moffett stuck his finger into his mouth and crushed the ant’s head between his teeth. That worked. The ant released its grip.
Moffett then proceeded to munch on the ant, casually noting the flavor as he might if tasting the hors d'oeuvres in an expensive restaurant. The flavor? It had a hint of nuttiness.
"In addition to ants," Watters commented, "we had fish and snails as winning topics."
"An Entirely Synthetic Fish" by Anders Halverson won the Natural History Literature category. Halverson's book is about rainbow trout, which is the most widely stocked fish in the world. But recently biologists have realized that it competes with native fish, and, in a complete about-face in attitude, it is now being eradicated in some locations.
The Nature History Literature category had two winners. The other winner, which Watters called "a memorizing work" is about a woman struggling to recover from a severe illness.
It is titled "The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating" and is written by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. While confined to bed and barely able to lift her head, Bailey begins take interest in a common woodland snail residing in a flower pot that a friend has given her. In time, the small creature gives her solace and hope in her battle against the disease.
A total of 18 books were honored this year’s National Outdoor Book Awards. 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.
In addition to works about nature, Watters highlighted two winners in the children's category. Both are historically accurate books for youngsters in the 8-12 age range.
"Camping With the President" by Ginger Wadsworth is about a camping trip taken by two icons of the outdoor world: Theodore Roosevelt, our most outdoorsy president, and John Muir, the world famous naturalist.
The other book is “Captain Mac” by Mary Morton Cowan. The book is a good choice for budding explorers and is about Donald MacMillan, a geologist, who explored the Arctic for nearly 50 years.
One highly creative work among this year's winners, according to Watters is a book on surfing.
The book is by Peter Heller and is titled "Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life and Catching the Perfect Wave."
"This is no ordinary book on surfing," Watters said, "It tells a good story, but it’s very much an introspective book."
Complete reviews of these and the other 2010 winners may be found at the National Outdoor Book Award we site at: www.noba-web.org.
Here is a list of winners.
• Nature and the Environment. Winner. Adventures Among Ants: A Global Safari With a Cast of Trillions. By Mark W. Moffett. University of California Press, Berkeley.
• Natural History Literature. Winner. An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World. By Anders Halverson. Yale University Press, New Haven.
• Natural History Literature. Winner. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating. By Elisabeth Tova Bailey. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.
• Outdoor Literature. Winner. Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life and Catching the Perfect Wave. By Peter Heller. Free Press, New York.
• Outdoor Literature. Honorable Mention. Just Passin’ Thru. By Winton Porter. Menasha Ridge Press, Birmingham, AL.
• History/Biography. Winner. Pilgrims of the Vertical: Yosemite Rock Climbers & Nature at Risk. By Joseph E. Taylor III. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
• History/Biography. Honorable Mention. The Last Man on the Mountain: The Death of an American Adventurer on K2. By Jennifer Jordan. W. W. Norton & Company, New York.
• History Biography. Honorable Mention. Arctic Labyrinth: The Quest for the Northwest Passage. By Glyn Williams. Viking Canada, Toronto.
• Classic. Winner. Annapurna: First Conquest of an 8,000-meter Peak. By Maurice Herzog. Lyon Press, Guilford, CT.
• Children Books. Winner. Camping With the President. By Ginger Wadsworth. Illustrated by Karen Dugan. Calkins Creek, Honesdale, PA.
• Children Books. Winner. Captain Mac: The Life of Donald Baxter MacMillan, Arctic Explorer. By Mary Morton Cowan. Calkins Creek, Honesdale, PA.
• Children Books. Honorable Mention. An Egret’s Day. Poems by Jane Yolen. Photographs by Jason Stemple. Wordsong, Honesdale, PA
• Design and Artistic Merit. Winner. Freshwater Fish of the Northeast. Illustrated by Matt Patterson. Text by David A. Patterson. University Press of New England, Hanover, NH.
• Nature Guidebooks. Winner. Tracks and Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates: A Guide to North American Species. By Charley Eiseman and Noah Charney. Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA.
• Nature Guidebooks. Honorable Mention. Night Sky: A Field Guide to the Constellations. By Jonathan Poppele. Adventure Publications, Cambridge, MN.
• Nature Guidebooks. Honorable Mention. Molt in North American Birds. By Steven N. G. Howell. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston.
• Outdoor Adventure Guidebooks. Winner. Exploring Havasupai: A Guide to the Heart of the Grand Canyon. By Greg Witt. Menasha Ridge Press, Birmingham, AL.
• Instructional Category. Winner. Sport Climbing: From Top Rope to Redpoint, Techniques for Climbing Success. By Andrew Bisharat. The Mountaineers Books, Seattle.