Twenty-four judges met Saturday afternoon to choose the finalists for this year's Minnesota Book Awards. There were lots of familiar names on the list, which was studded with many past winners and past nominees -- Joyce Sidman, Pete Hautman, William Kent Krueger and Eric Dregni, to name a few.

The four finalists in each of eight categories are as follows:

Children's Literature, sponsored by Books for Africa:

"BookSpeak! Poems About Books" by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Josée Bisaillon; "Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships" by Catherine Thimmesh; "The Last Day of Kindergarten" by Nancy Loewen, illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa, and "Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature" by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes.

General Nonfiction, sponsored by Minnesota AFL-CIO:

"Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America" by Shawn Lawrence Otto; "Punishing Race: A Continuing American Dilemma" by Michael Tonry; "Trout Caviar: Recipes From a Northern Forager" by Brett Laidlaw, and "Vikings in the Attic: In Search of Nordic America" by Eric Dregni.

Genre Fiction, sponsored by Marvin Windows and Doors:

"Big Wheat" by Richard A. Thompson; "The Bone House" by Brian Freeman; "Death of the Mantis" by Michael Stanley, and "Northwest Angle" by William Kent Krueger.

Memoir and Creative Nonfiction, sponsored by Leonard, Street and Deinard:

"For Love of Lakes" by Darby Nelson; "The Last Deployment: How a Gay, Hammer-Swinging Twentysomething Survived a Year in Iraq" by Bronson Lemer; "Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet" by Catherine Friend, and "A Song at Twilight of Alzheimer's and Love" by Nancy Paddock.

Minnesota, sponsored by Xcel Energy:

"Anishinaabe Syndicated: A View From the Rez" by Jim Northrup; "The Pillsburys of Minnesota" by Lori Sturdevant with George S. Pillsbury; "Pioneer Modernists: Minnesota's First Generation of Women Artists," by Julie L'Enfant, and "Sisterhood of War: Minnesota Women in Vietnam" by Kim Heikkila.

Novel and Short Story, sponsored by Anchor Trust:

"In Caddis Wood" by Mary François Rockcastle; "The Law of Miracles and Other Stories" by Gregory Blake Smith; "The Long-Shining Waters" by Danielle Sosin, and "Merit Badges" by Kevin Fenton.

Poetry, sponsored by Wellington Management Inc.:

"Bodies of Light" by Athena Kildegaard; "Buddha, Proof" by Su Smallen; "Invisible Strings" by Jim Moore, and "Whorled" by Ed Bok Lee.

Young People's Literature, sponsored by Sit Investment Associates:

"The Big Crunch" by Pete Hautman; "The Books of Elsewhere: Spellbound" by Jacqueline West; "The Tanglewood Terror" by Kurtis Scaletta, and "With or Without You" by Brian Farrey.

During the month of March, Minnesotans are invited to cast their votes to name a winner for the Readers' Choice Award. The link to vote is at

The winners will be announced April 14 at the 24th annual Minnesota Book Awards gala event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in St. Paul. Three other awards will be presented that night as well. Bridget O'Malley and Amanda Degener of Cave Paper will receive the fifth annual Book Artist Award, sponsored by Lerner Publishing Group.

The Kay Sexton Award, sponsored by Common Good Books, honors a lifetime contribution to the literary community. The winner will be announced in February.

And the winner of the first Hognander Minnesota History Award -- a new biennial award sponsored by the Hognander Family Foundation -- will be announced in April.

Laurie Hertzel • 612-673-7302