Last week, I encouraged everyone to consider hosting a school, or library Mock Sibert group or to join in as an individual. I also heard back from readers that they were looking forward to my predictions. So the pressure is on.
First, the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award goes to the most distinguished informational book published in the United States. To be honored/win the Sibert Award, the book must include these important elements and qualities:
- Excellent, engaging, and distinctive use of language.
- Excellent, engaging, and distinctive visual presentation.
- Appropriate organization and documentation.
- Clear, accurate, and stimulating presentation of facts, concepts, and ideas.
- Appropriate style of presentation for subject and for intended audience.
- Supportive features (index, table of contents, maps, timelines, etc).
- Respectful and of interest to children.
In addition to the qualities above, you can find further criteria here. This is where things can get tricky. One of the criteria is that the author and illustrator must be a citizen of the United States or maintain a residence in the United States. Sadly, this ruled out couple of books that I would have loved to see on the list.
Another important consideration is how the Sibert defines informational book. "Informational books are defined as those written and illustrated to present, organize, and interpret documentable, factual material."
A final consideration that I will highlight is how the Sibert defines "children's literature".
"Children’s literature is defined as the body of books published for an intended and potential child audience. Such books display respect for children’s understanding, abilities, and appreciation. Children range from birth through age fourteen. Books for the entire range are to be considered."
One note, this is NOT my Nonfiction Best Of list for the year. Check back in December for my favorites of the year. For this list, I looked back over the previous winners to see about any trends and to get a sense for what has been considered excellent nonfiction. I, also, tried my best to channel books that might have drawn the eyes of the Sibert committee members. I am still reading so I might have missed something.
Are you ready....here are my Mock Sibert picks in no particular order.
The Octopus Scientist by Sy Montgomery; Photographs by Keith Ellenbogen (HMH Books for Young Readers, May 2015) - The writing in Montgomery's newest Scientist in the Field book is beautiful and I'll be surprised if it doesn't walk away with at least an honor.
Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally Walker; Illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss (Henry Holt and Co., January 2015) - This was the year of two books on Winnie the cub who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh. However, Finding Winnie doesn't appear to qualify, since Lindsay Mattick is a Canadian.
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook Press, September 2015) - Aside from writing great books, Sheinkin is no stranger to the Sibert Award. In 2013, BOMB walked away a triple winner including the Sibert. I suspect that YALSA's Award for Excellence in Nonfiction will have it's eye on this one as well.
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown (HMH Books for Young Readers, August 2015) - Brown has two books that I enjoyed this year. In addition to Drowned City, I almost added Aaron and Alexander to the list. With the success of graphic novels at last year's Youth Media Awards, I am hoping that this one will rise to the top.
The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition by Chris Barton; Illustrated by Cathy Gendron (Millbrook Press, September 2015) -Barton has more than one book this year and it was hard to decide which one to add to the list. Maybe I am thinking seasonal with this choice, but let me know what you think.
Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli (Viking Books for Young Readers, March 2015) - This book fascinated me on so many levels. Pizzoli pulled together text and illustrations for a complete package.
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko; Illustrated by Sean Qualls (Arthur A. Levine, January 2015) - It was important to me to include some books that included diversity on some level. Alko & Qualls share with readers one family's fight against an unfair law prohibiting interracial marriage.
How to Swallow a Pig: A Step-by-Step Advice from the Animal Kingdom by Steve Jenkins, Robin Page (HMH Books for Young Readers, September 2015) - Jenkins and Page were prolific this year and any or all of their books could be on this list. However, I love the title of this one. (Yes, I know loving the title does not meet any of the criteria.)
Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engle; Illustrated by Edel Rodriquez (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, August 2015) - Engle is having a good year with three picture books and a memoir. And though I think she has a good chance at a Pura Belpré Award, I am hoping for a Sibert nod as well.
The Most Amazing Creature in the Sea by Brenda Z. Guiberson; Illustrated by Gennady Spirin (Henry Holt and Co., June 2015) - Doesn't this just have a great cover? Yeah, yeah, all of these have great covers, and that doesn't mean a book will win, but I was totally hooked on this one and hope the committee members loved it too.
Oh there are so many others, I would loved to add to this list but I limited myself to 10 titles. I will post a narrowed down list with a possible change in a book or two as I finish up my reading.
It will be interesting to see on January 11, 2016, if any of these titles win or make it as an honor book. So, what books are on your list?
Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews or Mock Sibert posts: