Book Awards 2020 Finalists

Congratulations to the finalists of the 31st Annual Midwest Book Awards!

Non-Fiction: Anthologies


  • Country Views by Zachary Michael Jack (Ice Cube Press, LLC)
  • Education for Democracy: Renewing the Wisconsin Idea by Chad Allen Goldberg (University of Wisconsin Press)

Non-Fiction: Arts/Photography/Coffee Table Books


  • Hazel Belvo: A Matriarch of Art by Julie L’Enfant (Afton Press)
  • Our Gay History by Zaylore Stout (Wise Ink)
  • Synthesis: Lost and Found in America: Art by Vesna Kittelson by Lyndel King, Heather Carroll, Wendy Fernstrum, Camille LeFevre, Susannah Schouweiler, Joanna Inglot, John Lyon, Kerry Morgan and Marcia Reed (Afton Press)

Non-Fiction: Autobiography/Memoir


  • Griefs Country: A Memoir in Pieces by Gail Griffin (Wayne State University Press)
  • Sign Here if You Exist and Other Essays by Jill Sisson Quinn (Mad Creek Books, an imprint of The Ohio State University Press)
  • Tending the Valley: A Prairie Restoration Odyssey by Alice D’Alessio (Wisconsin Historical Society Press)

Non-Fiction: Biography

  • Patrick J. Lucey: A Lasting Legacy by Dennis Dresang (Wisconsin Historical Society Press)

Non-Fiction: Business


  • The Confidence to Speak by Sara Krisher (Kirk House Publishers)
  • Durable Trades: Family-Centered Economies That Have Stood the Test of Time by Rory Groves (Front Porch Republic Books)

Non-Fiction: Children’s & Young Adult


  • My OIT Journey: How It Worked for Me! by Major Jaimes (Beaver’s Pond Press)
  • You Can Change the World by Lucy Bell (Andrews McMeel Publishing)

Non-Fiction: Cookbooks/Crafts/Hobbies


  • Hungry for Harbor Country: Recipes and Stories from the Coast of Southwest Michigan by Lindsay Navama (Agate Publishing, Inc.)
  • Northern Harvest: Twenty Michigan Women in Food and Farming by Emita Brady Hill (Wayne State University Press)
  • The Tahini Table: Go Beyond Hummus with 100 Recipes for Every Meal by Amy Zitelman (Agate Publishing, Inc.)

Non-Fiction: Education/Learning

  • Our Gay History by Zaylore Stout (Wise Ink)

Non-Fiction: Family/Parenting


  • Family Redefined by Kimberly Ewertz (Little Creek Press)
  • The Fog Zone by Deborah Day Laxson (Beaver’s Pond Press)

Non-Fiction: Health


  • The Fog Zone by Deborah Day Laxson (Beaver’s Pond Press))
  • My New Kidney & Me by Greg Baldauf (Beaver’s Pond Press)

Non-Fiction: History, Regional


  • Letters to the Chief: A Minnesota Childhood by Judi Lifton (Wisdom Editions, an imprint of Calumet Editions)
  • Midwest Futures by Phil Christman (Belt Publishing)
  • No Place Like Murder: True Crime in the Midwest by Janis Thornton (Indiana University Press)

Non-Fiction: Humor


  • The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com by Lisa Smith Molinari (Elva Resa Publishing)
  • Still Laughing, Still Learning, Still Looking for a Good Title: Mostly True Stories of Family, Friends, Faith & Foibles by Bill Chadwick (Beaver’s Pond Press)

Non-Fiction: Inspiration


  • Like a Shadow: The Life and Training of a Guardian Warrior by Tamarack Song (Snow Wolf Publishing)
  • My New Kidney & Me by Greg Baldauf (Beaver’s Pond Press)
  • The Seasons of Divorce by Barb Greenberg (Kirk House Publishers)

Non-Fiction: Nature


  • Afield by Sumner Matteson (Little Creek Press)
  • Mammals of North Dakota by Robert Seabloom (North Dakota State University Press)
  • Sign Here if You Exist and Other Essays by Jill Sisson Quinn (Mad Creek Books, an imprint of The Ohio State University Press)

Non-Fiction: Recreation/Sports/Travel


  • Crimson Arrows: A Bowhunting Odyssey by Eyad H. Yehyawi
  • More Minnesota Gold by Patrick Mader (with Joel Rippel)
  • When do the Lions Eat? by George Heiring (FuzionPress)

Non-Fiction: Religion/Philosophy


  • A Living Islamic City: Fez and Its Preservation by Titus Burckhardt (World Wisdom)
  • Journey to the Ancestral Self: Remembering What It Is to Be Human by Tamarack Song (Snow Wolf Publishing)
  • Native by Kaitlin B. Curtice (Brazos Press)

Non-Fiction: Social Science/Political Science/Culture


  • Coming Out, Moving Forward: Wisconsin’s Recent Gay History by R. Richard Wagner (Wisconsin Historical Society Press)
  • From Inspiration to Activism: A Personal Journey through Obama’s Presidential Campaign by Mary Lang Sollinger (Little Creek Press)
  • The White Man Who Stayed by James Autry (Ice Cube Press, LLC)

Fiction: Children’s


  • Cat Ninja by Matthew Cody (Andrews McMeel Publishing)
  • The Girl Who Moved to the Town That Wasn’t There by Suzanne Hovik Fuller (Siouxland Heritage Museum)
  • Life in the Neck Squirrel Trouble by Diane Davies (Beaver’s Pond Press)

Fiction: Children’s Picture Books


  • The Generous Fish by Jacqueline Jules (Wisdom Tales Press)
  • Monica the Muskie by Bob Allen (Beaver’s Pond Press)
  • My Heart Grows by Michael Arndt (Andrews McMeel Publishing)

Fiction: Fantasy/SciFi/Horror/Paranormal


  • Lord’s Dome by E.D.E. Bell (Atthis Arts)
  • Thicker than Water by Geoffrey Carter (HenschelHAUS)
  • Twisted Light by K.A. Patterson

Fiction: Graphic Novels


  • Cat Ninja by Matthew Cody (Andrews McMeel Publishing)
  • Icarus by Gregory A. Wilson (Atthis Arts)

Fiction: Literary/Contemporary/Historical


  • The Distance Between Stars by Jeff Elzinga (Water’s Edge Press LLC)
  • Half the Terrible Things by Paul Legler (North Dakota State University Press)
  • They Shot Kennedy by David Benjamin (Last Kid Books)

Fiction: Mystery/Thriller


  • All Hallows’ Shadows by Michael D. Graves (Meadowlark Press, LLC)
  • In the House of Night by Donald Levin (Poison Toe Press)
  • Lost Little Sister by Michael Prelee (North Star Press of St. Cloud)

Fiction: Romance


  • He Lands in Palm Springs by John F Shekleton
  • The Project by Stacey Potter (Hadleigh House Publishing)
  • Tearza by Pete Carlson (Calumet Editions)

Fiction: Short Story/Anthology


  • Girl on a Float by Brian Bedard (North Dakota State University Press)
  • I Have the Answer by Kelly Fordon (Wayne State University Press)
  • You’re in the Wrong Place by Joseph Harris (Wayne State University Press)

Fiction: Young Adult


  • A Time for Tears by Jerilynn Jones Henrikson (Meadowlark Press, LLC)
  • Gray Horse at Oak Lane Stable by Kerri Lukasavitz (Three Towers Press, an imprint of HenschelHAUS Publishing)
  • Opulence, Kansas by Julie Stielstra (Meadowlark Press, LLC)

Poetry: Anthology


  • Child of Dawn Mother of Twilight by Theresa King (Yes International Publishers)
  • Rocked by the Waters by Margaret Hasse and Athena Kildegaard (Nodin Press)

Poetry: Debut


  • Ain’t Never Not Been Black by Javon Johnson (Button Poetry)
  • The Miraculous, Sometimes by Meg Shevenock (Conduit Books & Ephemera)
  • The Willies by Adam Falkner (Button Poetry)

Poetry: General


  • Gut Botany by Petra Kuppers (Wayne State University Press)
  • Fractures by Carlos Andrés Gomez (University of Wisconsin Press)
  • Fugitive Atlas by Khaled Mattawa (Graywolf Press)

Poetry: Regional


  • His Feathers Were Chains by Denise Lajimodiere (North Dakota State University Press)
  • Midwest Gothic by Laura Donnelly (Ashland Poetry Press)
  • Words like Thunder: New and Used Anishinaabe Prayers by Lois Beardslee (Wayne State University Press)

Cover Design


  • Pouf by Monica Vierling Hall, designed by Ann Aubitz (FuzionPress)
  • Spider Lake: A Northern Lakes Mystery by Jeff Nania, designed by Chris Nania and Kristin Mitchell (Little Creek Press)
  • Story of the Mongolian Tent House by Dashdondog Jamba and Anne Pellowski, designed by Clinton Minnaar (Wisdom Tales Press)



  • The Generous Fish by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Clinton Minnaar (Wisdom Tales Press)
  • Shelter by Margaret Hasse, illustrated by Sharon deMark (Nodin Press)
  • Ya Herd! by Van Horgen, illustrated by Sandy Meirovitz (Beaver’s Pond Press)

Interior Design

  • FOR NOW: Poems by Taiju Geri Wilimek, Paintings by Marley Kaul by Taiju Geri Wilimek and Marley Kaul, designed by Lynn Phelps (Mill Studio Press)

Total Book Design


  • Afield by Sumner Matteson, designed by Kristin Mitchell (Little Creek Press)
  • Our Gay History by Zaylore Stout (Wise Ink)
  • My Heart Grows by Michael Arndt, designed by Michael Arndt with Julie Barnes as art director (Andrews McMeel Publishing)

Additional Details

Books were accepted for the annual Midwest Book Awards from any independent publisher in the 12-state Midwest region published during the 2020 calendar year. For each category, three judges independently score each entry in criteria relevant to that genre. Scores are tallied with the top three books (four, if a tie) above a minimum threshold named as finalists. Winners in each category will be announced during the live online awards gala, and on social media during the event.

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