Thursday, May 08, 2014

395-398 (2014 #23-26). 2014 Sibert Award Winner and Honor Books

The 2014 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Awards for the most distinguished informational books for children were announced back in January, but I finally got around to reading most of them today.

The winner for 2014 was Parrots over Puerto Rico, written by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore, and illustrated by Roth.  This book is also an Orbis Pictus Honor Book for 2014.  The NCTE Orbis Pictus Award  was established in 1989 by the National Council for the Teachers of English for promoting and recognizing excellence in the writing of nonfiction for children.  The book tells the story of the beautiful Puerto Rican parrot and its near extinction.  

Susan Roth’s incredibly detailed paper and fabric collages are gorgeous! Once you open the book, you need to rotate it 90 degrees, as this orientation (portrait rather than landscape) best takes advantage of the view towards the treetops and sky from the ground, and makes the reader feel like s/he is right there in the story.  The book includes pronunciation guides for some unfamiliar words, a four-page afterword with photographs and more facts, a timeline (the last two written at a higher reading level), and a list of the authors' sources.

Four Honor Books were named.  One is Locomotive, written and illustrated by Brian Floca (which also won the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children, and is also an Orbis Pictus Honor Book).  I reviewed this book earlier in the year.
A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin, by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, also won the Schneider Family Book Award for books for ages up to 10 that "embody an artistic expression of the disability experience," and was the Orbis Pictus winner this year.  This picture book biography (definitely appropriate for ages 6-10) is about African-American self-taught artist Horace Pippin (1888-1946), who painted despite a severe injury to his right arm suffered in World War I.

Bryant and Sweet teamed up on A River of Words, a picture book biography of William Carlos Williams, which was a Caldecott Honor Book in 2009. Bryant was inspired to write about Pippin while researching for another book.  Sweet also wrote and illustrated Balloons Over Broadway, which won the Sibert AND the Orbis Pictus in 2012.  Sweet used watercolor, gouache, and mixed media (including fabric and wood carvings) in her illustrations for A Splash of Red.   She also lettered in many quotes from him among the illustrations.  The book also includes a page of resources (further reading, web sites, etc.), and there is a map on the back end pages showing places you can see Pippin's art, as well as some actual examples of his work.

The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius, written by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, is also an Orbis Pictus Recommended Book this year.  George Ohr was a ceramics artist ahead of his time.

This 45-page biography is illustrated with period photographs of Ohr, his family, and Biloxi, Mississippi (where he lived), as well as brilliant color images of some of his (very) unusual works.  Various text fonts are also used for some quotes and captions to add further interest.

Due to the length and complexity of the text, the book is more appropriate for grades 4-8.  There is information at the end about the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum in Biloxi, how to evaluate and to make your own pots, and an extensive bibliography, end notes, and photo credits.

Greenberg and Jordan also teamed up on Ballet for Martha, which won the 2011 Orbis Pictus Award and was a Sibert Honor Book that year.

Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard, was written and illustrated by Annette LeBlanc Cate.   Her ink and watercolor illustrations are done in a cartoon style, with the birds making humorous wisecracks in speech bubbles.  The 51-page book is packed with information, though, on where to look for birds and what to look for on them.  Cate also provides advice on drawing birds, as well as a bibliography and an index for each bird type mentioned in the book.  The comic-book-like style and the book's complexity makes it more appropriate for third grade and up, and less appropriate as a read-aloud.

© Amanda Pape - 2014

[These books were borrowed from and returned to my university library.]

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