Honor roll: Sibert Medal

Each of these books has been nominated for a Sibert Medal. They are ranked by honors received.

Book:An American Plague

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793

Jim Murphy

1793, Philadelphia. The nation’s capital and the largest city in North America is devastated by an apparently incurable disease, cause unknown…

In a powerful, dramatic narrative, critically acclaimed author Jim Murphy describes the illness known as yellow fever and the toll it took on the city”s residents, relating the epidemic to the major social and political events of the day and to 18th-century medical beliefs and practices. Drawing on first-hand accounts, Murphy spotlights the heroic role of Philadelphia”s free blacks in combating the disease, and the Constitutional crisis that President Washington faced when he was forced to leave the city—and all his papers—while escaping the deadly contagion. The search for the fever”s causes and cure, not found for more than a century afterward, provides a suspenseful counterpoint to this riveting true story of a city under siege. …[more]

Book:Balloons over Broadway

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade

Melissa Sweet

Who invented the first balloons for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Meet Tony Sarg, puppeteer extraordinaire! Everyone’s a New Yorker on Thanksgiving Day, when young and old rise early to see what giant new balloons will fill the skies for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Who first invented these “upside-down puppets”? In brilliant collage illustrations, the award-winning artist Melissa Sweet tells the story of the puppeteer Tony Sarg, capturing his genius, his dedication, his zest for play, and his long-lasting gift to America—the inspired helium balloons that would become the trademark of Macy’s Parade.

Book:Black Potatoes

Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850

Susan Campbell Bartoletti

In 1845, a disaster struck Ireland. Overnight, a mysterious blight attacked the potato crops, turning the potatoes black and destroying the only real food of nearly six million people.

Over the next five years, the blight attacked again and again. These years are known today as the Great Irish Famine, a time when one million people died from starvation and disease and two million more fled their homeland.

Black Potatoes is the compelling story of men, women, and children who defied landlords and searched empty fields for scraps of harvested vegetables and edible weeds to eat, who walked several miles each day to hard-labor jobs for meager wages and to reach soup kitchens, and who committed crimes just to be sent to jail, where they were assured of a meal. It's the story of children and adults who suffered from starvation, disease, and the loss of family and friends, as well as those who died. Illustrated with black and white engravings, it's also the story of the heroes among the Irish people and how they held on to hope.

Book:We Are the Ship

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball

Kadir Nelson

“We are the ship; all else the sea.”—Rube Foster, founder of the Negro National League

The story of Negro League baseball is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners; of racial discrimination and international sportsmanship; of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats on and off the field. It is a perfect mirror for the social and political history of black America in the first half of the twentieth century. But most of all, the story of the Negro Leagues is about hundreds of unsung heroes who overcame segregation, hatred, terrible conditions, and low pay to do the one thing they loved more than anything else in the world: play ball. Using an “Everyman” player as his narrator, Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through its decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947. The voice is so authentic, you will feel as if you are sitting on dusty bleachers listening intently to the…[more]

Book:The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

Peter Sís

“I was born at the beginning of it all, on the Red side—the Communist side—of the Iron Curtain.”

Through annotated illustrations, journals, maps, and dreamscapes, Peter Sís shows what life was like for a child who loved to draw, proudly wore the red scarf of a Young Pioneer, stood guard at the giant statue of Stalin, and believed whatever he was told to believe. But adolescence brought questions. Cracks began to appear in the Iron Curtain, and news from the West slowly filtered into the country. Sís learned about beat poetry, rock ’n’ roll, blue jeans, and Coca-Cola. He let his hair grow long, secretly read banned books, and joined a rock band. Then came the Prague Spring of 1968, and for a teenager who wanted to see the world and meet the Beatles, this was a magical time. It was short-lived, however, brought to a sudden and brutal end by the Soviet-led invasion. But this brief flowering had provided a glimpse of new possibilities—creativity could be discouraged but not easily…[more]

Book:Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon

Steve Sheinkin

In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned 3 continents. In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy-water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at a remote site at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, the risk-taking, the deceit, and genius that created the world’s most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb.

Book:Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin

Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin

Robert Byrd

A dazzling picture-book biography of a fascinating Founding Father

A true Renaissance man, Benjamin Franklin was the first American celebrity. In pictures and text, master artist Robert Byrd documents Franklin’s numerous and diverse accomplishments, from framing the Constitution to creating bifocals. The witty, wise, and endlessly curious Franklin is the perfect subject for Byrd’s lively style and vibrant art. The pages pulse with facts, quotes, and captions, while the inventive design and intricately detailed illustrations make a striking tribute to the brilliant American.

Book:Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice

Phillip Hoose

“When it comes to justice, there is no easy way to get it. You can’t sugarcoat it. You have to take a stand and say, ‘This is not right.’”—Claudette Colvin

On March 2, 1955, an impassioned teenager, fed up with the daily injustices of Jim Crow segregation, refused to give her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Instead of being celebrated as Rosa Parks would be just nine months later, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin found herself shunned by her classmates and dismissed by community leaders. Undaunted, a year later she dared to challenge segregation again as a key plaintiff in Browder v. Gayle, the landmark case that struck down the segregation laws of Montgomery and swept away the legal underpinnings of the Jim Crow South.

Based on extensive interviews with Claudette Colvin and many others, Phillip Hoose presents the first in-depth account of an important yet largely unknown civil rights figure, skillfully weaving her dramatic story into the fabric of the historic Montgomery bus boycott and court case that would change the course of American history.

Book:Team Moon

Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon

Catherine Thimmesh

Here is a rare perspective on a story we only thought we knew. For Apollo 11, the first moon landing, is a story that belongs to many, not just the few and famous. It belongs to the seamstress who put together twenty-two layers of fabric for each space suit. To the engineers who created a special heat shield to protect the capsule during its fiery reentry. It belongs to the flight directors, camera designers, software experts, suit testers, telescope crew, aerospace technicians, photo developers, engineers, and navigators.

Gathering direct quotes from some of these folks who worked behind the scenes, Catherine Thimmesh reveals their very human worries and concerns. Culling NASA transcripts, national archives, and stunning NASA photos from Apollo 11, she captures not only the sheer magnitude of this feat but also the dedication, ingenuity, and perseverance of the greatest team ever — the team that worked to first put man on that great gray rock in the sky.

Book:The Voice That Challenged a Nation

The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights

Russell Freedman

“A voice like yours,” celebrated conductor Arturo Toscanini told contralto Marian Anderson, “is heard once in a hundred years.” This insightful account of the great African American vocalist considers her life and musical career in the context of the history of civil rights in this country. Drawing on Anderson’s own writings and other contemporary accounts, Russell Freedman shows readers a singer pursuing her art despite the social constraints that limited the careers of black performers in the 1920s and 1930s. Though not a crusader or a spokesperson by nature, Marian Anderson came to stand for all black artists-and for all Americans of color-when, with the help of such prominent figures as Eleanor Roosevelt, she gave her landmark 1939 performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which signaled the end of segregation in the arts. Carefully researched, expertly told, and profusely illustrated with contemporary photographs, here is a moving account of the life of a talented and determined artist who left her mark on musical and social history. Through her story, one of today’s leading authors of nonfiction for young readers illuminates the social and political climate of the day and an important chapter in American history.

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