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2016 National Outdoor Book Award winners announced by Idaho State University

November 18, 2016

Fast Into the Night book cover photo
"Fast Into the Night" book cover photo

NOTE: Color scans (print quality), complete reviews, and other supplementary art work may be downloaded from: http://www.noba-web.org/bookrel16.htm

POCATELLO – A woman’s 1,000-mile journey across Alaska in a dogsled. A scientist’s quest to find primitive creatures under the seas. The saga of the first ascent of one of the world’s most dangerous mountains.

These are some of the themes among this year’s winners of the 2016 National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA). The annual awards program recognizes the best in outdoor writing and publishing.

Among this year’s winners is a moving account written by Debbie Clarke Moderow about her experiences competing in Alaska’s famous dogsled race, the Iditarod. Titled “Fast Into the Night,” Moderow’s book portrays all the excitement and adventure that occurs on this most rigorous of races.

“What makes this book so appealing,” said Ron Watters, chair of the National Outdoor Book Awards, “is the connection between Moderow and her dogs. We come to learn their names, their personality quirks, and the warmth and love that she shares with each of them.”

Moderow’s book won the Outdoor Literature category, one of 10 categories making up the awards program. Overall this year, the judges bestowed honors on 17 books.

Sponsors of the program include the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Idaho State University and the Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education.

Sea of glass book coverWinning the Natural History Literature category is “Sea of Glass” by Drew Harvell. The book is about Harvell’s job as the curator of a collection of glass replicas of ocean invertebrates, spineless creatures of the sea. The collection dates back to the 1800’s. The more time she spends with them, the more she wonders what has happened to the animals represented by the collection since it was created.

“That sets Harvell off on a journey of discovery,” said Watters, "one in which the reader becomes an eye witness as Harvell dives into the mysterious depths of the ocean. It’s a great way to learn about science and the changes occurring to the underwater world.”

Winning the History/Biography category is the “Ghosts of K2.” Authored by Mick Conefrey, the book is the fascinating story of the early exploration, and the eventual first ascent, of K2.

“K2 is considered one of the world’s most difficult and dangerous mountains,” said Watters. “Conefrey has done his research and he tells the story vividly. I promise that he’ll keep you glued to the pages.”

The Children’s category was won by Sharon Mentyka for “Chasing at the Surface,” a novel for pre-teens and young adult readers. Mentyka’s story revolves around a 12-year-old named Marisa who takes on a school science project monitoring a pod of whales. The whales become trapped because of human activity and Marisa plays a role in helping them escape.

Watters describes the novel as having two main themes.

“One is about family and a long-held secret by Marisa’s mother,” he said. “The other theme is the understanding Marisa develops about the delicate balance faced by marine mammals. The combination of the two keep the story flowing to a climactic end.”

This year’s classic winner was “Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon” by Michael Ghiglieri and Thomas Myers. The book details fatalities and near misses that have occurred in the canyon area.

Although it deals with a grim subject, the value of the book, according to Watters is its instructional worth.

“We learn from the authors’ thoughtful analysis of accidents that most are preventable and often occur again and again,” Watters said. “’Over the Edge’ serves as a guide on how to take safer trips in desert and canyon environments.”

“Victory Gardens for Bees” won the Nature and Environment category. The title is a take-off of victory gardens that many people planted during World War I and II. It was way in which individuals could help the war effort by supplementing their country’s food supply.

Author Lori Weidenhammer suggests that victory gardens are again necessary, but for a different reason: to help resolve the shortage of forage and shelter faced by bees.

Watters describes the book “as a beautifully done and colorful manual showing how to create backyard sanctuaries for bees.”

The Living Bird book cover.Two books won the Design and Artistic Merit category. The first, “The Living Bird,” impressed the judges with photographer Gerrit Vyn’s breathtaking images of birds. Vyn’s photography is backed up with an elegant design created by Jane Jeszeck.

“The icing on the cake,” said Watters, “is the accompanying text written by a number of experts, perfectly complementing the book’s photography and design.”

The other design winner is “Yosemite in the Fifties.” Designed by Tom Adler and Evan Backes, the book celebrates climbing in the highly inventive years of the 1950’s when climbers in Yosemite pushed the boundaries of what was possible and create new climbing tools.

“The judges had nothing but praise for this book. Climbers in particular will find it a captivating glimpse at Yosemite history,” he said.


Complete reviews of these and the other 2016 winners may be found at the National Outdoor Book Awards website at: www.noba-web.org.

The complete list of winners is as follows:

Outdoor Literature. Winner. “Fast Into the Night: A Woman, Her Dogs, and Their Journey North on the Iditarod Trail.” By Debbie Clarke Moderow. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston. ISBN 978054448412

Outdoor Literature. Honorable Mention. “Portage: A Family, a Canoe and the Search for the Good Life.” By Sue Leaf. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. ISBN 9780816698547

Nature History Literature. Winner. “A Sea of Glass: Searching for the Blaschkas’ Fragile Legacy in an Ocean at Risk.” By Drew Harvell. University of California Press, Oakland, CA. ISBN 9780520285682

History/Biography. Winner. “The Ghosts of K2: The Epic Saga of the First Ascent.” By Mick Conefrey. Oneworld Publications, London. ISBN 9781780745954.

History/Biography. Honorable Mention. “Continental Divide: A History of American Mountaineering.” By Maurice Isserman. W. W. Norton, New York. ISBN 9780393068504.

History/Biography. Honorable Mention. “Valley Walls: A Memoir of Climbing & Living in Yosemite.” By Glen Denny. Yosemite Conservancy. Yosemite National Park. ISBN 9781930238633.

Design & Artistic Merit. Winner. “The Living Bird: 100 Years of Listening to Nature.” Photography by Gerrit Vyn. Design by Jane Jeszeck. Essays by Scott Weidensaul, Lyanda Lynn Haupt, John W. Fitzpatrick, and Jared Diamond. Mountaineers Books (Seattle) in conjunction with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (New York). ISBN 9781594859656

Design & Artistic Merit. Winner. “Yosemite in the Fifties: The Iron Age.” Design by Tom Adler and Evan Backes. Photo Editing by Dean Fidelman. Edited by John Long. Patagonia Books, Ventura, CA. ISBN 9781938340482

Design & Artistic Merit. Honorable Mention. “Todd and Brad Reed’s Michigan: Wednesdays in the Mitten.” Photography by Todd & Brad Reed. Design by Todd & Brad Reed, Sarah Genson and Rachel Gaudette. Cover by Misty Reed. Todd & Brad Reed Photography, LCC., Ludington, MI. ISBN 9781495152139.

Nature and the Environment. Winner. “Victory Gardens for Bees: A DIY Guide to Saving the Bees.” By Lori Weidenhammer. Douglas & McIntyre, Madeira Park, BC. ISBN 9781771620536

Children’s Category. Winner. “Chasing at the Surface: A Novel.” By Sharon Mentyka. WestWinds Press/Graphic Arts Books, Portland. ISBN 9781943328604

Children’s Category. Honorable Mention. “Wake Up, Island.” By Mary Casanova. Woodcuts by Nick Wroblewski. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. ISBN 9780816689354.

Classic: Winner. “Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon.” By Michael P. Ghiglieri and Thomas M. Myers. Puma Press, Flagstaff, AZ. ISBN 9780984785803.

Nature Guidebooks. Winner. “Mushrooms of the Northeast: A Simple Guide to Common Mushrooms.” By Teresa Marrone and Walt Sturgeon. Adventure Publications, Cambridge, MN. ISBN 9781591935919

Nature Guidebooks. Honorable Mention. “Pacific Seaweeds: A Guide to the Common Seaweeds of the West Coast.” Louis D. Druehl and Bridgette E. Clarkston. Harbour Publishing, Madeira Park, BC. ISBN 9781550177374

Outdoor Adventure Guidebooks. Winner. “Hiking Acadia National Park: A Guide to the Park’s Greatest Hiking Adventures.” By Dolores Kong and Dan Ring. Falcon Guides, Guilford, CT. ISBN 9781493016617

Instructional: Honorable Mention. “Winter in the Wilderness: A Field Guide to Primitive Survival Skills.” By Dave Hall with Jon Ulrich. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY. ISBN 9780801479953.


Home Towns of Authors

Outdoor Literature: “Fast Into the Night” Debbie Clarke Moderow (Anchorage, AK)

Outdoor Literature. “Portage” Sue Leaf. (Center City, MN)

Nature History Literature: “A Sea of Glass” Drew Harvell (Friday Harbor, WA)

History/Biography: “The Ghosts of K2” Mick Conefrey (Oxford, England)

History/Biography: “Continental Divide” Maurice Isserman (Clinton, NY)

History/Biography: “Valley Walls” Glen Denny (San Francisco, CA)

Design & Artistic Merit: “The Living Bird. Gerrit Vyn (Portland,OR). Jane Jeszeck (Seattle, WA)

Design & Artistic Merit: “Yosemite in the Fifties” Tom Adler Carpinteria, CA Dean Fidelman (Capitola, CA). John Long (Venice, CA)

Design & Artistic Merit: “Todd and Brad Reed’s Michigan” Todd & Brad Reed (Ludington, MI)

Nature and the Environment: “Victory Gardens” Lori Weidenhammer (Vancouver, BC)

Children’s Category: “Chasing at the Surface” Sharon Mentyka (Seattle, WA)

Children’s Category: “Wake Up, Island.” Mary Casanova (Ranier, MN)

Classic: “Over the Edge” Michael P. Ghiglieri and Thomas M. Myers (both from Flagstaff, AZ)

Nature Guidebooks: “Mushrooms of the Northeast” Teresa Marrone (Minneapolis, MN) and Walt Sturgeon (Palestine, OH)

Nature Guidebooks: “Pacific Seaweeds” Louis D. Druehl (Bamfield, BC) and Bridgette E. Clarkston (Monterey, CA)

Outdoor Adventure Guidebooks: “Hiking Acadia National Park” Dolores Kong and Dan Ring (both from Milton, MA)

Instructional: “Winter in the Wilderness” Dave Hall with Jon Ulrich (both Newfield, NY)