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NOBAWinners of the 2006

National Outdoor

Book Awards (NOBA)











Best Book Lists


















Reviews of the Winners of the 

National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA)


The most important book award program in the outdoor field is the National Outdoor Book Awards.  Primarily, awards are given to newly published books, but the program also recognizes past works of unusual importance through a special award called the Classic Award.  Program sponsors include the National Outdoor Book Awards Foundation, Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education, and Idaho State University. 


The current winners, listed by award category, are found below:



History-Biography Category



Last Season

Winner.  The Last Season.  By Eric Blehm.  HarperCollins Publishers, New York.  ISBN 9870060583002


Randy Morgenson is an experienced backcountry ranger in Kings Canyon National Park of the California Sierras.  He leaves on a routine patrol to an area, which after 28 seasons, he knows as well as anyone alive, but Morgenson never returns.  An extensive air and ground search ensues.  No sign of the ranger is found.  Was it an accident?  Was it foul play?  Or was it all just a ruse?  Could Morgenson still be alive?  In this outstanding work of investigative journalism, author Eric Blehm pieces together a fascinating story of an individual comforted by his solitary time in the wilderness but who is increasingly troubled by life in civilization.  Blehm spent eight years researching this book and it clearly shows.  He sets the stage, draws you in, and slowly unravels the truth of this absorbing mystery of the Sierra mountains.


Amazon.com: More Information or Purchase


Outdoor Literature Category



Being Caribou

Winner.  Being Caribou.  By Karsten Heuer.  The Mountaineers Books, Seattle.  ISBN 1594850100


Karsten Heuer has just married and he has an idea for the perfect honeymoon: a five-month, thousand mile journey following the caribou migration from their winter range to their calving grounds in the Arctic and back again.  No stranger to wilderness adventure herself, his wife and film maker, Leanne Allison readily agrees.  Being Caribou is Karsten's sensitively done book of the couple's adventurous and inspiring journey.  This a book full of heart and soul, capturing, like no other, the exquisite beauty and stark realities of that timeless and most celebrated of all mammal migrations.


Amazon.com: More Information or Purchase



Natural History Literature Category




Winner.  Condor:  To the Brink and Back.  By John Nielsen.  HarperCollins Publishers, New York.  ISBN 9780060088620


This book is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the efforts to save the condor, North America's largest flying land bird.  Condor is a story waiting to be told, and there could have been no better person for the job than John Nielsen.  Nielsen has penned a natural history book that is fun to read, mixing humor, science and human interest in just the right portions.  In short, it's a brilliant telling of a compelling environmental saga.


Amazon.com: More Information or Purchase


Outdoor Classic Category


Sleeping IslandHonorable Mention.  Sleeping Island:  A Journey to the Edge of the Barrens.  By P.G. Downes.  Heron Dance Press, New Ferrisburg, VT.  ISBN 1933937033


Sleeping Island is the story of P.G. Downes' 1939 canoe expedition through unmapped country in the remote northern corner of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.  His journey takes him to the edge of the Canadian Barrens, a desolate arctic wasteland known to the Indians as the "Land of Little Sticks."  What helps elevate this book over many of the chronicles of early twentieth century canoe excursions is Downes' intimate knowledge of the trappers, traders, and especially the Indians who live off the land.  This is what it was like on the cusp of change, just before the advance of civilization and titanic forces that would forever transform the face of Canada's north country.


Amazon.com: More Information or Purchase


Design /Artistic Merit Category


wings of SpringWinner.  Wings of Spring: Courtship, Nesting and Fledging.  Photographs by Tom Vezo.  Text by Chuck Hagner.  Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA.  ISBN 9780811701419


Wings of Springs represents some of the finest photography of birds ever published:  a Great Egret tossing a stream of brightly lit water droplets, a Wilson's Snipe standing on one leg forlorn in June snowfall, a Western Screech-Owl dangling a lizard from its beak.  One is amazed at the days and countless hours photographer Tom Vezo spent patiently waiting for these moments that he has so elegantly captured.  Complementing Vezo's photography is a comfortable and inviting design, and just the right amount of text to make the book useful as a bird guide as well as work of artistry.


Amazon.com: More Information or Purchase


100 CaterpillarsWinner.  100 Caterpillars.  By Jeffrey C. Miller, Daniel H. Janzen and Winifred Hallwachs.  The Belnap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge.  ISBN  0674021908


This is an exquisite book portraying the caterpillars of Costa Rica in impressively sharp and brilliant color photographs.  The lay-out and design is flawless.  The accompanying text is complete and satisfying.  The authors clearly want to share their discoveries and wonders of their work with everyone—not just with fellow biologists, but with all who are fascinated with the infinite variety of the natural world—and in that effort, they have succeeded beyond measure.


Amazon.com: More Information or Purchase




Children's Category



Kelly of Hazel Ridge

Winner.  Kelly of Hazel Ridge.  Text by Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuysen.  Illustrations by Gijsbert van Frankenhuysen.  Sleeping Bear Press, Chelsea, MI  ISBN #1585362689


Kelly is in trouble.  Her fourth grade teacher has asked her to write about something that's been important in her life.  But she can't think of a thing until her father tells her to take a walk around their small farm.  As she walks, she sees all the wild animals that share the farm, and she remembers helping her parents dig ponds, create wetland areas, and, oh yeah, plant a gazillion little trees!  This book is a pure delight with a suffused gentle innocence, heartfelt text, and warm, luminous illustrations, all of which will surely excite young minds and imaginations.  Ages 4-10.


Amazon.com: More Information or Purchase



Leaf Man

Winner.  Gaia Girls Enter the Earth.  By Lee Welles.  Daisyworld Press, Corning, NY.  ISBN 1933609001


In this 320-page novel, a young girl takes on a corporation that threatens to pollute the air and water of her upstate New York home.  She is helped by a fantasy creature by the name of Gaia who she learns is the embodiment of the earth and of all living things.  But can she, only a fourth grader (but soon to be a fifth grader!), stop a big corporation?  Find out in Lee Welles' page-turner for young girls.  Ages 9 to 14.


Amazon.com: More Information or Purchase


Nature and the Environment


Winner.  Life in the Underground.  By David Attenborough.  Princeton University Press, Princeton.  ISBN 0691127034


Beautifully illustrated, this book takes the reader on a tour of the cloak-and-dagger underworld of creatures without backbones, the invertebrates.  The tour guide is naturalist David Attenborough, prolific author and producer of popular nature documentaries for television.  In Life in the Underground, Attenborough guides us past scampering scorpions, albino termites, sex-starved slugs, blood sucking ticks, and ravenous, lizard-eating spiders.  Well, you get the picture.  It's a scary world down there at our feet.  But it's also a wondrous world, and the ever-curious Attenborough is clearly in his element telling us about it.


Amazon.com More Information or Purchase



Illustrated AtlasWinner.  Illustrated Atlas of the Himalaya.  By David Zurick and Julsun Pacheco.  University of Kentucky Press, Lexington.  ISBN 9780813123882

The Himalayas: the word itself can send our thoughts soaring to dizzy heights, and now there's a reference work worthy of the range's summits.  The Illustrated Atlas is the first full-color comprehensive atlas to the entire 2,700 kilometer length of the Himalaya.  It's attractively designed and includes 300 specially created maps, including maps of the range's national parks and preserves.  The facts are there too, of course.  Along with a wealth of photographs, the book includes textual information on the natural environment, conservation, resources, exploration, and culture and society.


Amazon.com More Information or Purchase


Carving Grand Canyon

Honorable Mention.  Carving Grand Canyon: Evidence, Theories, and Mystery.  By Wayne Ranney.  Grand Canyon Association, Grand  Canyon, AZ.  ISBN 0938216821


How and when was the Grand Canyon formed?  For nearly a century and a half, scientists have debated that question, but the answer remains elusive.  They do, however, agree on one thing:  the canyon was carved by the Colorado River.  In this stylish, full-color book by the Grand Canyon Association, Wayne Ranney describes and summarizes the various geological theories of the canyon's origins. 


Amazon.com More Information or Purchase


Nature Guidebook Category



Yellowstone ExpeditionWinner.  Yellowstone Expedition Guide: The Modern Way to Explore America's Oldest National Park.  By Charissa Reid.  TravelBrains, Inc., Bedford, NH.  ISBN 1933763000


This is a state-of-the-art, technologically savvy guidebook for visitors of Yellowstone National Park.  It's packed full of beta, including information on the area's geology, its hydrothermal features, plants, animals, and hiking trails.  Topping it off are two included CD's:  one is an audio tour which can be played as you visit different parts of the park, and the other contains movies and panoramic photo tours which can be viewed on your computer.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com

  Caterpillars of Eastern North America.  By David L. Wagner.  Princeton University Press, Princeton.  ISBN # 0691121443


It's a caterpillar lover's delight:  a copiously illustrated guide to the caterpillars of nearly 700 butterflies and moths found east of the Mississippi.  Many of the caterpillars included in the volume have never been photographed.  The guide is nicely designed and easy to use with clear and crisp photographs of both the larva and adult stages.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com



Instructional  Category

Extreme Kids

Winner. Extreme Kids: How to connect with your children through today's extreme (and not so extreme) outdoor sports.  By Scott Graham.  Wilderness Press, Berkeley.  ISBN 0899973736


Healthy, adventurous outdoor activities are a great way to connect with your children.  And here's a book to help you make that happen.  Extreme Kids has the low-down on how parents and children can safely participate together in sports like rock climbing, surfing, canoeing, mountain biking, hiking, kayaking and many others.


More Information or Purchase: Amazon.com




Outdoor Adventure Guidebook Category


Middle Fork

Winner.  The Middle Fork of the Salmon River: A Comprehensive Guide.  By Matt Leidecker.  Idaho River Publications, Hailey, ID.  ISBN 1424302668


More than any, river guidebooks get used—and abused.  All day, they are in and out of ammo cans, passed around, and used to keep track of mileage, to re-check routes through rapids, and to find the night's camp.  They have to be tough, conveniently sized, able to withstand a soaking or two, have easy-to-read maps, and clear and concise descriptions.  Matt Leidecker's Middle Fork guidebook fits the bill perfectly.  If you have a trip planned on Idaho's Middle Fork of the Salmon, this is the guide written and built for the job.


Available from the author's website: Middle Fork




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