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High Plains Book Award finalists announced
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Finalists for the 2020 High Plains Book Awards were released on Wednesday. Because of concerns about COVID-19, winners will not be announced at an awards banquet, as in years past. Instead, the awards will be announced on the High Plains Book Awards website and on social media on Sept. 26.

This year’s list of finalists includes 13 Canadians from four provinces, one author from the United Kingdom, five Montanans and authors from nine other states. The list also includes two previous High Plains Book Award winners.

All nominated books — 223 of them this year — were read and evaluated by community readers. Winners in each category will be determined by a judging panel of published writers with connections to the High Plains region.  

Nominated books must have been published for the first time in 2019. Winners will receive a $500 cash prize. The High Plains Book Awards were established in 2006 to recognize regional authors and/or literary works that examine and reflect life on the High Plains, a region that includes Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The finalists, and where they live, in all 12 categories:

Art & Photography

“The Arapaho Way: Continuity and Change on the Wind River Reservation,” by Sara Wiles. (Previous winner, 2012.) Lander, Wyo.

“Truth and Beauty in the Canadian Rockies,” by Lisa Christensen. Calgary, Alberta.

“Victor Cicansky: The Gardener’s Universe/L’univers d’un jardinier,” by Timothy Long and Julia Krueger, editors. Regina, Saskatchewan.

Children’s Book

“Forever Neverland,” by Susan Adrian. New York City.

“Howl: A New Look at the Big Bad Wolf,” by Ted Rechlin. Previous finalist, 2017. Helena, Mont.

“Major: A Soldier Dog,” by Trevor Jones. Lincoln, Neb.

Creative Nonfiction

“Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country,” by Pam Houston. Creede, Colo.

“Encounters in Yellowstone: The Nez Perce Summer of 1877,” by M. Mark Miller. Bozeman, Mont.

“Essential Yellowstone: A Landscape of Memory and Wonder,” by Michael J. Yochim. Fenton Mo.


“Fall Back Down When I Die,” by Joe Wilkins. (Previous winner in Poetry 2013 and Short Stories 2016.) McMinnville, Ore.

“The Healer’s Daughter,” by Charlotte Hinger. Fort Collins, Colo.

“The Line Between,” by Tosca Lee. Fremont, Neb.

First Book

“The Cheyenne Story: An Interpretation of Courage,” by Gerry Robinson. East Helena, Mont.

“Earth to Charlie,” by Justin Olson. Buckeye, Ariz. 

“Reckless Steps Toward Sanity: A Memoir,” by Judith Sara Gelt, Centennial, Colo. 

Indigenous Writer

“From the Ashes: My Story of Being Metis, Homeless, and Finding My Way,” by Jesse Thistle. Hamilton, Ontario.

“Perception: A Photo Series,” by KC Adams. Winnipeg, Manitoba.

“The Red Chesterfield,” by Wayne Arthurson. Calgary, Alberta.

Medicine & Science

“Birds, Bones, and Beetles: The Improbable Career and Remarkable Legacy of University of Kansas Naturalist Charles D. Bunker,” by Charles H. Warner. Lawrence

“The Science of Why, Vol. 4,” by Jay Ingram. Bragg Creek, Alberta.

“Six Hundred Generations,” by Carl M. Davis. Missoula, Mont.


“Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power,” by Pekka Hamalainen. Oxford, England.

“One Size Fits None: A Farm Girl’s Search for the Promise of Regenerative Agriculture,” by Stephanie Anderson. Boca Raton, Fla.

“Voices of Yellowstone’s Capstone,” by Traute N. Parrie and Jesse A. Logan, editors. Red Lodge, Mont.


“Mercy,” by Shirley Camia. Winnipeg, Manitoba.

“St. Boniface Elegies,” by Catherine Hunter. Winnipeg, Manitoba.

“Wilderness/Kingdom,” by Jory Mickelson. Bellingham, Wash.

Short Stories

“Not a Thing to Comfort You,” by Emily Wortman-Wunder. Centennial, Colo. 

“This. This. This. Is. Love. Love. Love.” by Jennifer Wortman. Lafayette, Colo.

“Winning Chance,” by Katherine Koller. Edmonton, Alberta.

Woman Writer

“Cold Metal Stairs,” by Su Croll. Edmonton, Alberta.

 “Nighthawk Rising: A Biography of Accused Cattle Rustler Queen Ann Bassett of Brown’s Park,” by Diana Allen Kouris. Kinnear, Wyo.

“River People,” by Margaret Lukas. Omaha, Neb.

Young Adult

“Cold White Sun,” by Sue Farrell Holler. Grand Prairie, Alberta.

“Qaqavii,” by Miriam Korner. Air Ronge, Saskatchewan.

“Spin,” by Colleen Nelson. Winnipeg, Manitoba.

For more information about the High Plains Book Awards, visit the website www.highplainsbookawards.orgor email