Announcing the 2017 Literary Award and Children's Book Award Winners

Posted by Brigitte Rupp Vacha on Thursday, July 27, 2017 in Events and Promotions

The Wisconsin Library Association Announces the Winners of the 2017
Literary Award and the Children’s Book Award Winners

Nicholas Petrie’s The Drifter
as the Literary Award Winner For 2017

The Literary Awards Committee of the Wisconsin Library Association has chosen Nicholas Petrie’s The Drifter as the Literary Award winner for 2017. The award is for the highest literary achievement by a Wisconsin author for a work written in 2016.

Nicholas Petrie’s debut novel is an exciting thriller that introduces Peter Ash, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, who comes home from the wars with post-traumatic stress and a mission to help a Marine friend’s widow rebuild an old porch at her home. What he finds under there, a mean ugly dog and a suitcase full of cash and explosives, sends him on an adventure through the city of Milwaukee. Petrie combines the usual elements of a suspense mystery novel with insightful reflections on how returning veterans cope with fitting in again to “normal” society.

Nicholas Petrie lives in Whitefish Bay, a suburb of Milwaukee with his wife and family. He has been a carpenter, remodeling contractor and now works as a building inspector when he is not writing his next novel.

The Literary Awards Committee also selected eight books by Wisconsin authors for Outstanding Achievement. These titles, all published in 2016, are:

  • Bertrand Court by Michelle Brafman
  • Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
  • The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton
  • The Hemingway Thief by Shaun Harris
  • A Hard and Heavy Thing by Matthew Hefti
  • The Silver Man by Peter Shrake
  • Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
  • As Good As Gone by Larry Watson

Additionally, the Committee recognized six works of Outstanding Poetry. These titles are:

  • Six True Things by Robin Chapman
  • Fill in the Blank by Naomi Cochran
  • Transit of Venus by Susan Firer
  • Bloodroot by Catherine Jagoe
  • The Swimmer by John Koethe
  • Firstborn by Franco Pagnucci

Lastly, the Literary Awards Committee chose three authors as Notable Wisconsin Authors this year. This award recognizes an author’s entire body of work and is designed to promote greater awareness of the state’s literary heritage. This year’s Notable Authors are:

Beth Amos
Victoria Houston
Sarah Monette

The 2017 Literary Awards Committee members are librarians and trustees from around the state. For more information about the Literary Awards, visit

Sarah L. Thomson’s Deadly Flowers: A Ninja’s Tale
as the Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla Award Winner

Children’s book Deadly Flowers: A Ninja’s Tale, written by Sarah L. Thomson and published by Boyds Mills Press, has won the coveted Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla Award for 2017. The Children’s Book Award Committee of the Wisconsin Library Association’s Youth Services Section annually presents the Burr/Worzalla Award to the most distinguished work in literature written and/or illustrated by a Wisconsin book creator. Thomson, now a resident of Portland, Maine, grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and Madison, Wisconsin.

After years of intense training, Kata, a young ninja, embarks on her first solo mission. Kata discovers, though, that her target is just a young boy (whose sister is her accomplice), and her mission suddenly takes on new meaning and becomes much more complicated than she expected. Faced with completing her mission and taking the young boy’s life or facing the consequences of failure, Kata’s choice takes her on a journey of self-discovery and leads her to a much greater battle than she bargained for. Great for girls and boys, Deadly Flowers has an awesome female protagonist and enough action to satisfy all ages!

For his amazing body of work in children’s literature, Wisconsin resident Neil Gaiman was selected as this year’s Wisconsin Notable Children’s Author. Gaiman is listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers and is a prolific creator of works of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics and drama. Gaiman has won awards in the past, including the Newbery Medal for The Graveyard Book.

Eight noteworthy titles have also been selected for Outstanding Achievement in children’s literature, written and/or illustrated by Wisconsin book creators:

  • A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
  • The Haunted House Project by Tricia Clasen
  • The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey
  • Thérèse Makes a Tapestry by Alexandra S.D. Hinrichs and Renée Graef
  • Radical by E.M. Kokie
  • Snail and Worm: Three Stories About Two Friends by Tina Kügler
  • Pond by Jim LaMarche
  • A Patron Saint for Junior Bridesmaids by Shelley Tougas

The Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla Award is made possible by the Worzalla Publishing Company, Stevens Point, through a grant to the WLA Foundation.

For more information about the Children’s Book Award Committee, visit

WLA is a professional organization representing all types of libraries – school, public, academic and special. Its membership comprises 1,500 librarians and support staff, library trustees, friends of libraries, and business vendors who advocate and work for the improvement of library services for all Wisconsin citizens.

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