High Plains Book Award finalists announced

Finalists for the 2022 High Plains Book Awards were released June 20, with winners to be announced at an awards event Oct. 8 in Billings.

All nominated works — a record 294 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.

This year, 10 of the finalists hailed from Montana, four each from Wyoming and Colorado, two from Oregon and one each from New York, Utah and Nevada, as well as 13 authors from Canada.

Nominated books must have been published for the first time in 2021. Each winner will receive a $500 award and a commemorative plaque.

The finalists in 12 categories are listed below. Finalists for the Big Sky Award, given to the best overall book by a Montana author, will be announced separately.

Art and Photography

“Bison: Portrait of an Icon,” by Audrey Hall and Chase Reynold Ewald

“Jon Lodge: Fracture,” by Brandon Reintjes and Gordon McConnell

“George Carlson: The American West,” by Todd Wilkinson

Children’s Book

“The Undercover Book List,” by Colleen Nelson

“The Mystery of the Giant Kohlrabi,” by Sharon Plumb

“Dear Peter, Dear Ulla,” by Barbara Nickel

Creative Nonfiction

“Helmi’s Shadow: A Journey of Survival from Russia to East Asia to the American West,” by David Horgan

“We Are All Perfectly Fine: A Memoir of Love, Medicine and Healing,” by Jillian Horton

“The Holly: Five Bullets, One Gun, and the Struggle to Save an American Neighborhood,” by Julian Rubinstein


“Let the Wild Grasses Grow,” by Kase Johnstun

“And It Will Be a Beautiful Life,” by Craig Lancaster

“Daughter of the Morning Star: A Longmire Mystery,” by Craig Johnson


“Miraculous Sickness,” by ky perraun

“Cockeyed Happy: Ernest Hemingway’s Wyoming Summers with Pauline,” by Darla Worden

“Black Snake: Standing Rock, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and Environmental Justice,” by Katherine Wiltenburg Todrys

Indigenous Writer

“20.12m: A Short Story Collection of a Life Lived as a Road Allowance Métis,” by Arnolda Dufour Bowes

“Standoff: Standing Rock, the Bundy Movement, and the American Story of Sacred Lands,” by Jacqueline Keeler

“Kitotam,” by John Brady McDonald

Medicine & Science

“We Are All Perfectly Fine: A Memoir of Love, Medicine and Healing,” by Jillian Horton

“Wild Rescues: A Paramedic’s Extreme Adventures in Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton,” by Kevin Grange

“The Scenic Geology of Alberta: A Roadside Touring and Hiking Guide,” by Dale Leckie


“No One Dare Call Her a Liar,” by Larry Lee Kruckenberg

“A History of Montana in 101 Objects: Artifacts and Essays from the Montana Historical Society,” by the Montana Historical Society, Kirby Lambert and Tom Ferris

“We Are All Perfectly Fine: A Memoir of Love, Medicine and Healing,” by Jillian Horton


“No Way: An American Tao Te Ching,” by David Romtvedt

“The Track the Whales Make: New and Selected Poems,” by Marjorie Saiser

“awâsis—kinky and disheveled,” by Louise B. Halfe – Sky Dancer

Short Stories

“Site Fidelity,” by Claire Boyles

“What If We Were Somewhere Else,” by Wendy J. Fox

“The Broken World,” by Tom Vandel

Woman Writer

“The Stone Sister,” by Caroline Patterson

“Ancestors: Indigenous Peoples of Western Canada in Historic Photographs,” by Sarah Carter and Inez Lightning

“The Call of the Last Frontier: The True Story of a Woman’s Twenty-Year Alaska Adventure,” by Melissa Cook

Young Adult

“Alone,” by Megan E. Freeman

“The Life and Deaths of Frankie D.,” by Colleen Nelson

‘When You Least Expect It,” by Lorna Schultz Nicholson

The High Plains Book Awards recognize regional authors and/or literary works that examine and reflect life on the High Plains, including the states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The Billings Public Library board of directors first established the High Plains Book Awards in 2006. The awards are now an independent, nonprofit organization. For more information, visit www.highplainsbookawards.org or email Info@highplainsbookawards.org.

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