The finalists for the 21st annual Minnesota Book Awards, announced Saturday night, represent a wide range of Minnesota writers. Publishers as small as a one-man operation in Duluth as well as major New York publishers are represented, as are first-time nominees and past winners.

The finalists -- four each in eight categories -- were chosen by 24 judges from around the state. They are:

Children's literature: "My Friend, the Starfinder" (Atheneum) by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Stephen Gammel; "Henry's Amazing Imagination" (Viking/Penguin) by Nancy Carlson; "The House in the Night," (Houghton Mifflin) by Susan Marie Swanson, illustrated by Beth Krommes; "Monkey with a Tool Belt" (Carolrhoda Books) by Chris Monroe.

General nonfiction: "The Compassionate Carnivore" (Da Capo Press) by Catherine Friend; "A Hard-Water World" (Minnesota Historical Society Press) by Greg Breining, photography by Layne Kennedy; "Potluck Paradise" (Minnesota Historical Society Press) by Rae Katherine Eighmey and Debbie Miller; "You Have Been Kind Enough to Assist Me," (North Dakota State University) by Terry Shoptaugh.

Genre fiction: "A Carrion Death" (HarperCollins) by Michael Stanley; "Phantom Prey" (Putnam) by John Sandford; "Red Knife" (Atria Books) by William Kent Krueger; "Stalking Susan" (Doubleday) by Julie Kramer.

Memoir & creative nonfiction: "The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir" (Coffee House Press) by Kao Kalia Yang; "Madness: A Bipolar Life" (Houghton Mifflin) by Marya Hornbacher; "Renaming the Earth: Personal Essays" (University of Arizona Press) by Ray Gonzalez; "Swallow the Ocean" (Counterpoint) by Laura M. Flynn.

Minnesota: "Crossing the Canal: An Illustrated History of Duluth's Aerial Bridge" (X-communication) by Tony Dierckins; "Hard Work and a Good Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Minnesota" by Barbara W. Sommer; "Landscapes of Minnesota: A Geography" by John Fraser Hart and Susy Svatek Ziegler; "Minnesota on the Map: A Historical Atlas" by David A. Lanegran (all published by Minnesota Historical Society Press).

Novel and short story: "Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire" (Coffee House Press) by David Mura; "The Plague of Doves" (HarperCollins) by Louise Erdrich; "Shelter Half" (Holy Cow! Press) by Carol Bly; "The Soul Thief" (Pantheon Books) by Charles Baxter.

Poetry: "Milk and Tides" (Nodin Press) by Margaret Hasse; "National Monuments" (Michigan State University Press) by Heid E. Erdrich; "The Sound of It" (New Rivers Press) by Tim Nolan; "Yellowrocket" (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.) by Todd Boss.

Young people's literature: "Black Box" (Delacorte) by Julie Schumacher; "Julia Gillian (and the Art of Knowing)" (Scholastic) by Alison McGhee; "Saturday Night Dirt: A Motor Novel" (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) by Will Weaver; "Twelve Long Months" (Scholastic Press) by Brian Malloy.

Throughout March, readers can visit to vote for the Readers' Choice Award. Winners will be announced April 25 at the Minnesota Book Awards Gala in St. Paul.

Laurie Hertzel, the Star Tribune's books editor, is at 612-673-7302.