A harrowing account of a deadly Great Plains Blizzard, a rumination on the life of the mother of Jesus and fiction about the unlikely friendship...

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A harrowing account of a deadly Great Plains Blizzard, a rumination on the life of the mother of Jesus and fiction about the unlikely friendship of two Seattle women are among the winners of this year’s Washington State Book Awards.

The Washington Center for the Book at the Seattle Public Library will announce the awards today. Prizes are given to books published in 2004 by authors who were either born in Washington state or have been current residents for at least three years. The winners are:

“Orphans: Essays” by Charles D’Ambrosio (Clear Cut Press). Seattle native and Portland resident D’Ambrosio’s essays cover topics from Seattle’s Boeing-based recession of 1974 to his dubious take on the activists who fought the Makahs’ right to hunt whales.

“Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother” by Lesley Hazleton (Bloomsbury). An inquiry by a Seattle author into what the real person on whom the Biblical mother of Jesus is based may have been like, incorporating religious, historical and archaeological sources.

“Light’s Ladder: Poems” by Christopher Howell (University of Washington Press). Poems by a professor of English and creative writing at Eastern Washington University; a volume in the UW Press’ Pacific Northwest Poetry Series.

“Breaking Ground” by Paul Hunter (Silverfish Review Press). Poems by a Seattle author and publisher (Wood Works Press).

“Broken for You” by Stephanie Kallos (Grove/Atlantic). A lonely young woman takes a room in the Capitol Hill mansion of an elderly Seattle recluse. They become friends and business partners in an enterprise whose story plays out in the mansions, theaters and bowling alleys of Seattle. “Broken for You” was also named as a selection of the NBC Today Show’s book club.

“The Children’s Blizzard” by David Laskin (HarperCollins). Seattle author Laskin penned this harrowing account of an 1888 Great Plains blizzard that swept a disproportionate number of schoolchildren into its deadly grip.

“Black is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy” by Nikhil Pal Singh (Harvard University Press). A professor of history at the University of Washington examines the lack of progress in equality for blacks in America, using the ideas and visions of black thinkers from W.E.B. Dubois to Ralph Ellison to Martin Luther King Jr. to measure actual gains for blacks.

“Gorgon: The Monsters That Ruled the Planet Before Dinosaurs and How They Died in the Greatest Catastrophe in the Earth’s History” by Peter Ward (Penguin). The University of Washington geology professor and author looks at the Permian catastrophe that wiped out most of life on Earth, including the lion-sized carnivores of the title, 250 million years ago.

Two children’s books have been awarded the first Eulalie and Carlo Scandiuzzi Children’s Book Awards. New this year, the prizes are given to one children’s picture book and one book targeted to 10-to-18-year-old readers:

“Honey, Baby, Sweetheart” by Issaquah author Deb Caletti (Simon & Schuster). A teenage girl falls for a wild boy, but learns from friends and family that some things are more important than romance. This book was also a National Book Award finalist.

“Ella the Elegant Elephant,” written by Carmela D’Amico, illustrated by Steven D’Amico (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic). An elephant teaches her fellow elephants that it’s OK to be different. By a Seattle author/illustrator wife/husband team.

The winners will be celebrated at a public ceremony on Oct. 19. The awards carry a $1,000 honorarium.

Mary Ann Gwinn: 206-464-2357 or mgwinn@seattletimes.com