Here are the recipients of this year’s Washington State Book Award:
WASHINGTON STATE BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION
So Lucky by Nicola Griffith (MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Nicola Griffith’s short, tense novel is a spellbinding journey into the thin place between deep personal fears and physical reality. What do you do when home is no longer a safe place? Griffith’s protagonist is a martial artist and nonprofit leader, accustomed to feeling at home in her body and comfortable house. Then symptoms of multiple sclerosis, ensuing job loss, and the fraying threads of her fading relationship begin to deconstruct her life. No quitter, she bonds with other people with disabilities online – but fear and offline violence soon threaten this community, and perhaps even herself. A work that honestly presents both the power and vulnerability that those with disabilities experience.
WASHINGTON STATE BOOK AWARD FOR POETRY
Instruments of the True Measure by Laura Da’ (University of Arizona Press)
Poet Laura Da’, “a citizen of two nations: Shawnee and American”, writes in a way that is both spare and beautifully descriptive. The poetry and prose in this collection deal with the broad themes of western expansion and the 1830 Indian Removal Act, and reach farther still as they connect long strands of history, culture and the arrival of settler colonialism. The piece Pain Scale Treaties includes the line: “I used to wince at photocopies of old treaty papers — fragile shrouds from this voracious consumption.”
WASHINGTON STATE BOOK AWARD FOR BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
Arctic Solitaire by Paul Souders (Mountaineers Books)
Armchair travelers will rejoice at the visually stunning and wonderfully described adventures of an award-winning photographer. The author chronicles the perils and humorous misadventures that make up his quest northward to capture incredible images of the elusive polar bear.
WASHINGTON STATE BOOK AWARD FOR NONFICTION/HISTORY
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo (Seal Press)
An important work that powerfully illustrates the need to honestly face the lasting, living damage of racism in the United States. With great clarity and empathy, Oluo includes autobiographical and historical scenarios to illustrate cause, effect, and how to move forward. While both young and old need to have the conversation, readers also learn how such conversations can harm people of color when misused for denial or self-justification.
WASHINGTON STATE BOOK AWARD FOR YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE
Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough (Dutton Books for Young Readers)
Assisting her less talented father in the studio and working on her own paintings in secret, Artemisia thinks she’s found a confidant in the young artist her father hires to teach her perspective. Inspired by Renaissance painter Artemisia Gentileschi, this novel in verse is an unforgettable story of betrayal and triumph.
WASHINGTON STATE BOOK AWARD FOR MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS
(ages 9 to 12)
Winterhouse by Ben Guterson (Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt)
Eleven-year-old Elizabeth discovers mysterious doings and a series of puzzles to be solved at Winterhouse, a remote hotel in the middle of the forest. This magical and lively series opener evokes such middle grade classics as The Westing Game and The House with a Clock in its Walls.
WASHINGTON STATE BOOK AWARD FOR YOUNGER READERS
Peanut Butter and Jelly by Ben Clanton (Tundra Books)
When Narwhal tries his first peanut butter cookie he’s hooked! But he can’t stop eating them and before long he’s crispy, golden brown, and covered in adorable little hatch marks! Can his best buddy Jelly help him out of his jam?
WASHINGTON STATE BOOK AWARD FOR PICTURE BOOK
All Are Welcome, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Depicting a day in the life of a diverse classroom, All Are Welcome follows the students’ arrival in the morning to the warm communion of a shared meal in the evening. Throughout, the central refrain reassures that no matter where you’re from or who you are, “all are welcome here.”