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 later this month 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. Also, this year, I highlighted a number of science themed books and books featuring strong women that though they may or may not be selected by the Sibert committee they would be advocated for if I were on the committee. Don't forget to check out Michelle's Mock Sibert picks to see which ones we have in common.
Are you ready? Here are my mock Sibert picks in no particular order....
Coyote Moon by Maria Gianferrari; Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline (Roaring Brook Press, July 2016) - Informative and beautiful, this book was an immediate favorite from the moment I read it.
Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy by Richard Michelson; Illustrated by Edel Rodriguez (Knopf Books for Young Readers, September 2016)- Despite what a public figure Nimoy was, I realized after reading this book that I knew so little about him. A wonderful introduction.
The Great Leopard Rescue: Saving the Amur Leopards by Sandra Markle (Millbrook Press, August 2016) - I love this series by Sandra Markle and eagerly anticipated its release. Markle has an incredible way of making the animal she is writing about the main character of her book and one that we care about.
The Great White Shark Scientist (Scientist in the Field Series) by Sy Montgomery; Photographs by Keith Ellenbogen (HMH Books for Young Readers, June 2016) - Montgomery has an unique way of showcasing an animal in a way that no one else does. Where as many feature the more gruesome and terrifying aspects of sharks, Montgomery takes readers on a journey to see a complete different side of the Great White Sharks.
Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls are Born to Lead by Michelle Markel; Illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Balzer & Bray, January 2016) - Markel's skillful text paired with Pham's deeply researched illustrations make this one of my favorite books about Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton by Audrey Vernick; Illustrated by Steven Salerno (Clarion Books, March 2016) - I love biographies and have been a fan of baseball for years. Vernick has introduced me to some of my favorite baseball biographies and that this one features a woman baseball player knocks it out of the park for me.
Giant Squid by Candace Fleming; Illustrated by Eric Rohmann (Roaring Brook Press, September 2016) - This is a beautifully illustrated love song to the mysterious squid It really is a must read.
Swimming with the Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark by Heather Lang; Illustrated by Jordi Solano (Albert Whitman & Co, December 2016) - It is great to see more and more biographies about women scientists and the significant contributions they made to their field. In Swimming with the Sharks, I learned about Eugenie Clark and her work with sharks.
Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton; Illustrated by Don Tate (Charlesbridge, May 2016) - I had never thought about who created the super-soaker. I probably assumed it was just a product of a big toy manufacture. Barton and Tate team together again to share with readers about Lonnie Johnson and is invention that has been a huge hit with kids for many years.
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky (Ten Speed Press, July 2016) - Don't be shocked if you see this one on my "best of" list. There is so much to love about this book from both the way it is designed to the way it features 50 amazing women of science.
Check back next week for some long form nonfiction picks. And don't forget to check Michele Knott's Mock Sibert picks here.
Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews or any of your predictions for the Sibert Award: