It’s nearly here! Tomorrow night is the 77th Annual Ohioana Award ceremony, to be held at the Ohio Statehouse. This year’s crop of winners joins a prestigious club that includes such notable authors as Mary Doria Russell, Wil Haygood, Paula McClain, Toni Morrison, and Anthony Doerr.
The Ohioana Book Awards are the second oldest, and among the most prestigious, state literary prizes in the nation. Nearly every notable Ohio writer of the past 77 years has been honored.
The first Ohioana Book Award, presented in 1942, was given in the category of nonfiction to James Reston’s Prelude to Victory.
Awards for juvenile literature and fiction were first presented in 1943, followed in 1944 by poetry and book about Ohio/an Ohioan, and in 2014, middle grade/young adult literature. To these juried awards, we added a Readers’ Choice Award in 2016, allowing readers to choose their favorite book from among the finalists selected by judges.
The 2018 honorees are:
Fiction: Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere Nonfiction: Deanne Stillman, Blood Brothers Poetry: Ruth Awad, Set to Music a Wildfire About Ohio or an Ohioan: Brian Alexander, Glass House Middle Grade / Young Adult: Tamara Bundy, Walking with Miss Millie Juvenile Literature: Sally Derby, A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices Reader’s Choice: Tamara Bundy, Walking with Miss Millie
Additionally, at the Ohioana Award ceremony, we also present the Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant, which is awarded annually to a writer under the age of 30 who has not yet published a book. This year’s winner is Christopher Alexander Gellert. He joins the likes of Jeannie Vanasco, Ellis Avery, Anthony Doerr, Shari Goldhagen, Bernard Farai Matambo, Sarah Menkedick, and many more writers who have gone on to publish award-winning books.
Congratulations to all of our winners! For more information about them, see the Fall issue of the Ohioana Quarterly. To learn more about previous winners of the Ohioana Awards, click here, and to watch previous ceremonies click here.
Have you ever wanted to tell everyone about a book that you really, really like? Maybe the book hasn’t gotten enough attention. Maybe the book’s Ohio connection isn’t very well known and you’d like to fix that.
Now’s your chance to spread the word: become a reviewer for the Ohioana Quarterly and let the world know about great books!
The OQ has been around since 1958, and was created to promote Ohio authors and books. Today, the publication is found in homes and libraries across the state. Each issue has unique features and interviews, a list of books received, literary goings-on around the state, and reviews of new books received by the library.
We are always on the lookout for thoughtful reviews to support our authors, and we pay in love as well as in a book and a contributor’s copy.
Would you like to help? You can learn more about writing reviews here.
You’re also always welcome to write to the editor, who can be reached at editor@Ohioana.org.
It’s Banned Books Week! BBW is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
Though there are no Ohio-related books this year, there have been several included many times in the past. Some of them may surprise you!
Among the most frequently banned or challenged books in America are titles by celebrated, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison, who was born and raised in Lorain, Ohio. Her novels Beloved, Song of Solomon, and The Bluest Eye are multi-award winning stories about people of color; in particular, women of color. The American Library Association has pointed out the overwhelming tendency to ban books by writers of color; in 2016, the spotlight week was specifically shone on these writers in an attempt to “celebrate literature written by diverse writers that have been banned or challenged, as well as explore why diverse books are being disproportionately singled out in the first place.”
Morrison’s books are frequently singled out for sexual content and violence without considering the context. The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, is an unflinching look at racism and domestic violence. Encouraging students to read this book, and other controversial literature, encourages them to start a dialogue about subjects which are too often ignored. In this era of movements like #TimesUp and #MeToo and the current political climate, The Bluest Eye is just one book that may foster students’ critical thinking skills. Morrison herself, when she accepted her Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993, spoke of “Laureates yet to come,” those readers who confront hard-to-tell stories head on, and may grow up to change the world, and tell their own world-changing stories.
“Their voices bespeak civilizations gone and yet to be; the precipice from which their imaginations gaze will rivet us; they do not blink nor turn away.”
Another controversial Ohio author is Dav Pilkey, whose Captain Underpants books are beloved by millions of kids worldwide. He created this video in 2014 to express his feelings on banned books.
Captain Underpants has been banned frequently from schools, even reaching the #1 spot on ALA’s annual banned books list in 2012. Pilkey himself pointed out that his books “contain no sex, no profanity, no nudity, no drugs, and no graphic violence (at least nothing you wouldn’t see in a 1950’s Superman comic book).” So why are they banned so often? Pilkey thinks it’s a snap judgment based on the cover and title, and the penchant towards directing children to “real literature” rather than comics, despite the recognition in recent years of graphic novels as award-winning books of art and literature.
“My goal with Captain Underpants is to make kids laugh and to give children (and especially reluctant readers) a positive experience with reading at a crucial time in their development (ages 7 to 10). Children in this age group who hate to read are in great danger of becoming functionally illiterate adults. So when a child connects to a book — even if it’s a book that we as adults might not care for — it’s a BIG DEAL!”
Coming in at #94 on the list of Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books in 2009 was the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine. Stine grew up in Bexley, Ohio and graduated from Ohio State University. He began his career by writing humor books for children and created the humor magazine Bananas. Stine wrote his first horror novel for young people in 1986. He went on to create the Fear Street series in 1989 and Goosebumps in 1992. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, and the Goosebumps series has been translated into 32 languages. Like Captain Underpants, it also inspired a film, with a sequel coming this October. Stine created an endowment fund for creative writing in his hometown of Bexley, received the Ohioana Career Award in 1999, and was a featured author at the 2009 Ohioana Book Festival.
Goosebumps has been banned because parents feel they are too frightening, or that they contain “satanic” or “occult” themes. With titles like It Came From Beneath the Sink! and Go Eat Worms! it seems odd that these complaints are taken seriously. Indeed, Stine says that he considers the banning of his books to be a point of pride.
“It is a badge of honor to have people try to ban your books from schools and school libraries, only because it means your books have become popular and are being noticed. Unpopular books seldom get banned. I’ve never noticed any kind of sales decrease because of these censorship campaigns. Usually they prove to be good publicity.”
Ultimately, Banned Books Week is a celebration of the freedom to read. The 2018 theme, “Banning Books Silences Stories” is a reminder that everyone needs to speak out against the tide of censorship. For more information on Banned Books Week, previous lists of banned/challenged books, and other ways you can celebrate the freedom to read, visit the Banned Books Week website.
Although autumn doesn’t officially start until September 22nd, it certainly already feels as if the seasons have changed. The chilly, rainy weather of this past week might bring to mind thoughts of changing leaves, pumpkin pie and shorter days. Here at Ohioana, it also reminds us of the myriad of literary events that happen around the state during the autumn. Whether you’re looking to hear your favorite author speak about their work, get a book signed, or buy something new to read, there should be something to satisfy you in the coming months. Check out our list below for some literary events around Ohio this fall that you shouldn’t miss.
Cleveland Public Poetry: Featuring Maxwell Shell
When: September 15th, 12:00pm-1:00pm
Where: Literature Department, Main Library, 325 Superior Ave., 2nd FL
What: “Ohio Center for the Book and Cleveland Public Library invite you to celebrate the changing of the season amidst the readings of written and spoken-word poetry, with our special guest reader poet MaxWell Shell. After a brief Q&A, the mic will open for others to read an original or favorite work. Free refreshments and snacks provided. Door prizes, too!”
What: “In partnership with Columbus City Schools, Gramercy Books welcomes award-winning author and journalist, Wil Haygood, to Columbus East High School for his national book tour launch of Tigerland:1968-1969: A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing. Haygood will share the story of Columbus’ own East High School Tigers, who won baseball and basketball state championships in the midst of the racial turbulence and segregation of the late 1960s, and how they inspired a community.”
Admission: Free, but tickets must be reserved through Eventbrite
Where: Schottenstein Theatre at Bexley High School
326 South Cassingham Road
Bexley , OH 43229
What: “Join us in welcoming Columbus’ own, Wil Haygood, for a special afternoon featuring his new book, Tigerland:1968-1969: A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing, an emotional, inspiring story of two teams from a poor, black, segregated high school in Columbus, who, in the midst of the racial turbulence of 1968/1969, win the Ohio state baseball and basketball championships in the same year. This program, to include an author talk, reading and book signing, is presented in partnership with Bexley Public Library.”
What: “Wil Haygood, Pulitzer-nominated journalist and New York Times best-selling author of The Butler and Showdown will be discussing his new book, Tigerland: 1968-1969: A City Divided, a Nation Torn Apart, and a Magical Season of Healing. Tigerland tells the story of Columbus’ East High School Tigers, baseball and basketball teams from a poor, black, segregated high school that each won two Ohio state championships in the same year, uniting a racially-charged community in the aftermath of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Haygood is praised for connecting the civil rights movement and its iconic heroes with current events and enduring struggles. Above all, he brings the powerful perspective that this is the history of all Americans, shaping our national identity and common values. Haygood will be interviewed by his friend, Michael Carter, chief diversity officer at Sinclair Community College. Copies of Tigerland, in addition to other titles by Haygood, will be available for purchase. A book signing will follow the presentation.”
What: “This year’s festival will feature accomplished visiting writers, a book fair, a caucus for literary arts nonprofits, panels on many aspects of the literary arts, craft talks, workshops and readings in fiction, nonfiction and poetry.”
When: September 27th-30th, check website for times
Where: Varying locations, check website for more information
What: “CXC is a free, citywide arts festival hosted every year by people and places with a passion for cartoon arts. CXC connects the global family of cartoon storytellers, comic makers, and animators with the people who love and are inspired by their art. Together, they celebrate the stories that can only be told in visual media that are as diverse as the people who imagined them.”
What: “The Ohioana Book Awards are the second oldest, and among the most prestigious, state literary prizes in the nation. Nearly every notable Ohio writer of the past 76 years has been honored. Tickets for the Awards go on sale on September 15th.”
What: “The premiere event is the Books by the Banks Cincinnati Regional Book Festival held annually in downtown Cincinnati. The day-long festival, which is free and open to the public, features national, regional, and local authors and illustrators; book signings; panel discussions; and activities for the entire family to enjoy.”
What: The Pickerington Teen Book Fest is free and open to the public! Add this event now to your calendars, and get ready to spend one incredible day with twelve incredible authors of teen and young adult fiction!
It’s hard to believe summer is almost over! Though the calendar says there are still a few weeks left, many Ohio schools are already back in session. With Labor Day marking the unofficial end of summer, we thought we would take a look at some great books to enjoy during these final “dog days” of summer.
Most people tend to think of the “dog days” of summer as those days that are the most hot and humid. However, this ubiquitous phrase has its origins in astronomy. The ancient Greeks were the first to notice that the “dog star,” Sirius, rose and set with the sun during July and August. They thought this was the reason for extra heat during that time of year.
Over time, this phrase has come into more common use to describe the type of steamy weather Ohio has seen for much of this summer, when many our canine buddies want to lie around and enjoy some fun in the sun (or shade!). Of course, dogs are not the only ones who like lounging on a hot summer day. Here are some great hot weather reads to help soak up the last few days of sun:
Fun Dog, Sun Dog by Deborah Heiligman, illustrated by Tim Bowers
Meet Tinka – a dandy, sandy golden retriever, and the little boy who loves her, as they spend a busy, dizzy day at the beach. With rhyming text and adorable watercolors by Ohioan Tim Bowers, this is a story that the whole family will enjoy. Ohioana’s furry friend, Kirby thinks it’s a delightful “tail!”
This debut novel by the 2017 Ohioana Readers’ Choice Winner is the perfect choice for a scorching summer day. It’s the tale of the summer of 1984, when a blistering heatwave baked the small town of Breathed, Ohio. Fielding Bliss never forgot that summer – the year he became friends with the devil.
Last Summer with Maizonby Jacqueline Woodson
This first novel by Ohio native and 2018-19 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature tells the story of the beautiful friendship of Margaret and Maizon. The summer Margaret turns eleven, her father unexpectedly dies. Then Maizon is accepted at an expensive boarding school, far away from the place they have grown up together. This exploration of self-discovery and issues like racism and death is a realistic, touching look at the lives and friendships of young African-American girls, and their journey toward adulthood.
One Evil Summer (Fear Street #25) by R. L. Stine
In this fun entry from the Bexley native who has given kids nightmares for decades, it’s summer at the beach and Amanda Conklin is stuck in summer school. At least she doesn’t have to take care of her bratty little brother and sister – that’s Chrissy’s job. Chrissy is the perfect babysitter. But Chrissy has a secret – she’s a cold-blooded killer!
How to Survive a Summer by Nick White
This debut novel by OSU Assistant Professor Nick White centers around a gay conversion camp in Mississippi, and a man’s reckoning with the trauma he faced there as a teenager. It is the story of reconciling the past and learning from the present, of found family, and of working through trauma and grief to reclaim your own story from those who have stolen it.
The Lake Effect by Erin McCahan
In this novel by 2018 Ohioana Book Award Finalist Erin McCahan, it’s the summer after senior year, and Briggs Henry is out the door. He’s leaving behind his ex-girlfriend and his parents’ money troubles for Lake Michigan and its miles of sandy beaches, working a summer job as a personal assistant, and living in a gorgeous Victorian on the shore. It’s the kind of house Briggs plans to buy his parents one day when he’s a multi-millionaire. But then he gets there. And his eighty-four-year-old boss tells him to put on a suit for her funeral. So begins a summer of social gaffes, stomach cramps, fraught beach volleyball games, moonlit epiphanies, and a drawer full of funeral programs. Add to this Abigail, the mystifying girl next door on whom Briggs’s charms just won’t work, and “the lake effect” is taking on a whole new meaning.
It’s that time of year again! It’s to the pleasure of everyone at Ohioana to announce the 2018 Ohioana Awards. Every year, the Awards help Ohioana recognize an outstanding title in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, About Ohio/Ohioan, Middle Grade/Young Adult Literature, Juvenile Literature. Readers are also invited to have their voices heard in voting for the Readers’ Choice Award. In addition, a young writer is chosen as the recipient of the annual Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant.
Six of the Ohioana Award winners, as well as the Marvin Grant recipient, were selected by juries. The Readers’ Choice Award was determined by voters in a public online poll. This year, more than 1390 votes were cast for the Readers’ Choice Award.
First given in 1942, the Ohioana Book Awards are the second oldest, and among the most prestigious, state literary prizes in the nation. Nearly every major writer from Ohio in the past 75 years has been honored, from James Thurber to Toni Morrison. The Ohioana Awards will be presented Thursday, October 18, in the Atrium of Ohio’s historic Statehouse in Columbus. Tickets for event, which are open to the public and include a pre-awards reception, will go on sale mid September. The 2018 Ohioana Award winners are as follows:
Announced alongside the book awards, Ohioana named Christopher Alexander Gellert as the 29th winner of the Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant, a competitive prize for Ohio writers age 30 or younger who have not yet published a book. Gellert recently completed his master’s in lettres modernes, pensée contemporaine at Paris Diderot. Since September 2016 he has been gathering testimonies of the influence of literature on readers in France, conversations they have over dinners he cooks in their homes. His verse has appeared in Belleville Park Pages & FORH Magazine. He will be pursuing a doctorate in the fall on the investigation as an artistic practice with Vincent Broqua at Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint Denis.
Dear readers, the fate of this year’s Readers’ Choice award lies in your hands. Yes, YOU can cast YOUR vote to decide which of the incredible books nominated for the 2018 Ohioana Book Awards will be THE book, the ONE book to win a very special kind of nod.
Ohioana began this program in 2016 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of our awards program. This year, we have a poll that will stay open until Friday, June 29, at 3:00 p.m. You can access the poll here to vote for your favorite of 30 available titles. One vote per computer, please.
Our winner in 2017 was Tiffany McDaniel for her novel The Summer That Melted Everything. For 2016, the winner was Mary Doria Russell for her novel Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral.
The Readers’ Choice award is a great way to include more people in the process of giving awards to those who richly deserve them. We hope you will vote for your favorite too!
It’s true: all the best movies come from good books.
Writers know what they are doing: they create conflict and plot and characters that readers love, and then Hollywood options the work and reaps the reward.
Another reaper-of-rewards is author and Ohio native Ernest Cline. Born in Ashland, Ohio (home to a really cool hot air balloon festival every summer!) and former resident of Columbus, Mr. Cline now calls Austin, Texas, home. He owns a DeLorean which means he totally WINS and OWNS and even PWNS (if he wants to) American popular culture from the 1980s.
Cline used to work at CompuServe, which was founded in Columbus in 1969. It was a ground-breaking tech communications company, and the perfect place to work if you loved tech and info and the infinite possibilities they presented. This speculative way of looking at the world found its way into Cline’s first book, Ready Player One, which was published in 2011. Columbus is there too, as the city of escape for protagonist Wade Watts.
A lover of all things tech, geek, nerd, and 1980s, Cline was especially thrilled to work with the great filmmaker Stephen Spielberg, the force behind so many of our cultural touchstones.
Ernie also tweets now and then and can be found on Twitter as @erniecline.
Our own Jacqueline Woodson has received honors and awards for her insightful work for many years. Ms. Woodson has over 5 million copies of her books in print, four Newberry Honors, and she is the winner of the National Book Award for Brown Girl Dreaming.
And she owns all of 2018!
In January, Ms. Woodson was named the sixth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, for 2018–2019. Her appointment was official at an inauguration ceremony on Tuesday, January 9 at the Library of Congress, presided over by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.
The National Ambassador for Young People program is sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council, and CBC’s charitable arm, Every Child a Reader. The Librarian of Congress selects the Ambassador based on the recommendations of an independent committee comprised of various children’s literature experts including educators, librarians, and booksellers. Among the criteria for the Ambassador post are: contributions to young people’s literature, the ability to relate to kids and teens, and dedication to fostering literacy in all forms.
Woodson has chosen the phrase “Reading = Hope x Change,” as her platform as Ambassador. “I definitely believe that reading can change us and shape us in so many ways, and through it we can be exposed to people and places and ideas that we might not otherwise come across or confront in real life,” she said. “A platform about the importance of reading and having conversations across the lines of books is really important to me.”
Check out this super-great illustrated press release from her publisher, Nancy Paulson of Nancy Paulson Books, an imprint of Penguin.
Jacqueline Woodson was born in Ohio, so we are pleased and proud to be able to claim her as our own!
The Ohioana Library is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2018 Ohioana Book Awards. First given in 1942, the awards are the second oldest state literary prizes in the nation and honor outstanding works by Ohio authors in five categories:
Ford, Jeffrey. A Natural History of Hell: Stories, Small Beer Press.
Lang, Ruth Emmie. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, St. Martin’s Press.
Ng, Celeste. Little Fires Everywhere, Penguin Press.
Olmstead, Robert. Savage Country, Algonquin Books.
Umrigar, Thrity. Everybody’s Son, Harper.
Bahney, Jennifer Bowers. Betrayer’s Waltz, McFarland.
Batchelor, Bob. Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel, Rowan & Littlefield Publishers.
Logsdon, Gene. Letter to a Young Farmer, Chelsea Green Publishing.
Ricca, Brad. Mrs. Sherlock Holmes, St. Martin’s Press.
Stillman, Deanne. Blood Brothers, Simon & Schuster.
About Ohio or an Ohioan
Alexander, Brian. Glass House, Picador.
Blunk, Jonathan. James Wright: A Life in Poetry, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Chernow, Ron. Grant, Penguin Press.
Merry, Robert W. President McKinley: Architect of the American Century, Simon & Schuster.
Reston, James Jr. A Rift in the Earth: Art, Memory, and the Fight for a Vietnam War Memorial, Arcade Publishing.
Awad, Ruth. Set to Music a Wildfire, University of Southern Indiana Press.
Fagan, Kathy. Sycamore, Milkweed Editions.
Nordgren, Sarah Rose. Darwin’s Mother, University of Pittsburgh Press.
Pitinii Davis, Allison. Line Study of a Motel Clerk, Baobab Press.
Smith, Maggie. Good Bones, Tupelo Press.
Carson, Mary Kay. Photos by Tom Uhlman. Mission to Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper Belt, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Derby, Sally. Illus. by Mika Song. A New School Year: Stories in Six Voices, Charlesbridge.
Daywalt, Drew. Illus. by Adam Rex. The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors, HarperCollins/Balzer and Bray
Dougherty, Shawn. Illus. by Leah Busch. Wake, Blue Manatee Press.
Rylant, Cynthia. lllus. by Brenden Wenzel. Life, Beach Lane Books.
Middle Grade/Young Adult Literature
Bundy, Tamara. Walking with Miss Millie, Nancy Paulsen Books.
McCahan, Erin. The Lake Effect, Dial Books for Young Readers.
Rogerson, Margaret. An Enchantment of Ravens, Margaret K. McElderry Books.
Rubini, Julie K. Virginia Hamilton: America’s Storyteller, Ohio University Press
Springstubb, Tricia. Illus. by Eliza Wheeler. Cody and the Rules of Life, Candlewick Press.
Ohioana will profile all the finalists in the coming weeks. Beginning Monday, May 21, we will present “30 Books, 30 Days,” a special feature on our Facebook page in which one finalist is highlighted each weekday through Friday, June 29.
Winners will be announced in July, and the 2018 Ohioana Book Awards will be presented at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus on Thursday, October 18.