Over the past three years, Alyson, of Kid Lit Frenzy, has hosted, and Carrie, of There Is A Book For That, and I have participated in, a book challenge pushing ourselves to read more nonfiction picture books. Since we read many of the best nonfiction picture books published each year, in 2014 we decided to start hosting a Mock Sibert Award.
The Sibert Award is given annually to the most distinguished informational book published during the preceding year. Although the Sibert Award is not just for picture books, we are going to focus on the nonfiction picture books we feel would be honored or win this year. 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.
After reviewing the qualities and elements needed to win the Sibert Award, I chose the following five titles as my Mock Sibert Finalists that I hope will win or be honored on February 2nd. Check out Kid Lit Frenzy and There is a Book for That to see what Alyson and Carrie chose as their picks.
Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World
Author: Steve Jenkins
Published April 1st, 2014 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Steven Jenkins is the master of informational nonfiction! His unique artwork is always eye catching, and he chooses the most information to share with students. Many of his books, including this one, sound like something that would be boring to read about, but Jenkins makes it so it is not. This book, includes information about different animals’ eyes with a close up of their eyes and an overview illustration of the whole animal. I had no idea there were so many different types of eyes! And animals that I thought didn’t have eyes actually do!
As for Sibert criteria, Jenkins hits it out of the park! His use of informative yet appealing language mixed with his beautiful visual presentation is above the rest, the book is organized for readers to easily understand, has back matter that supports the text, it is appropriate and interesting for children.
Author: Katherine Roy
Published September 30th, 2014 by David Macaulay Studio
This one surprised me. From the cover and artwork, I thought it would be just a simple shark book, but it was so much more! This book completely contradicts any statement that says that a book with illustrations and not photographs cannot be an exemplar informational text. Neighborhood Sharks takes you through a Great White Sharks routines, anatomy, habits, and how scientists study them. The diagrams are exceptional and really add to the text.
Once again, this text is spot on when it comes to Sibert criteria. The entire book is excellent, engaging, and distinctive! It was a pleasure to read!
The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus
Author: Jennifer Fisher Bryant
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Published September 15th, 2014 by Eerdman’s
Roget was such a fascinating man, and I had no idea before picking up this text. He was a genius, creative, scientist, and a good father and husband. I loved that Bryant and Sweet teamed up again (they also did A River of Words about William Carlos Williams) to tell us Roget’s story. I think what makes their books so special are the unique way that illustrations and text intertwine and together become the story. Every part of the page is essential to the book.
I feel like a broken record, but again this book definitely fulfills the criteria for the Sibert award. I actually think that because of the unique use of illustrations and text, it is probably my most distinctive use of visuals.
Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla
Author: Katherine Applegate
Illustrator: G. Brian Karas
Published October 7th, 2014 by Clarion
Anyone who knows me knows that I adore apes (see my Nerdy Book Club Top Ten Ape books and my Hurt Go Happy interview with Ginny Rorby as well as my Hurt Go Happy, Primates, and Endangered reviews). They are such fascinating creatures. I enjoy reading about them and am a true advocate for their care here on Earth. This book is just another supporting document in the beauty, intelligence, and awesomeness of these creatures. Katherine Applegate has written a perfect companion to her Newbery winning One and Only Ivan which takes the reader into Ivan’s life and once again makes our heart break for him. It is written in verse with words that transport you into Ivan’s life. This book made me cry because of the power of the words, but more importantly, the power of Ivan’s story. Please read this. You will thank me (and curse Katherine Applegate for the tears).
This book may be my only book that does not meet all of the criteria for the award, but I had to put it on the list because of its beauty, importance, and closeness to my heart. Although it does not include any supportive features, I feel that that does not take away from the amazing use of language, beautiful illustrations, and fascinating story.
Feathers: Not Just For Flying
Author: Melissa Stewart
Illustrator: Sarah S. Brannen
Published February 25th, 2014 by Charlesbridge
This is another book, like Eye to Eye, that I thought could not be as good as everyone had said. It is a book about feathers which could never be interesting, right? Wrong. Stewart does an amazing job of sucking you in, showing the beauty and importance of feathers, and she does so with some amazingly beautiful imagery (using similes). Her language mixed with the soft-toned illustrations, which are perfect for a book about feathers, makes you lose yourself in her information. Then she sneak attacks at the end, after you are already sucked in, with the scientific classification of feathers. Next thing you know, you are fascinated with feathers.
Feathers also meets all of the Sibert criteria–especially the engaging use of language and stimulating presentation of facts.
Which book from my, Alyson’s, or Carrie’s list do you think should be honored by the Sibert committee? Complete our poll below to share which you think should win, and also enter to win the winner of our poll.
The winner of the Mock Sibert and giveaway will be announced on Wednesday, January 28th. I cannot wait to see which book wins!