Friday, March 13, 2009

My Last Post

This is my last post. For the last year I've had a place to share my thoughts - i.e. ramble & vent -and now it's time to give someone else the chance. The INK contributors are creative people who are dedicated to non-fiction; It's been an honor and a treat to be associated with them. (And, if you haven't already noticed, they're nice people, too!)

I leave with a (provocative?) question:
Does the ALA Sibert Award for non-fiction make sense? Does, say, a K-3 picture book about butterflies really belong in the same category as a Young Adult biography of Hitler?


StoryForce said...

Thanks for sharing your insight over the year. And no, I don't think the K-12 butterfly book belongs in the same category as a biography of Hitler. Both have a valuable place on the shelf and both should be recognized for excellence, but they should not be compared.

Loreen Leedy said...

It seems like more than one category would help.

Rosalyn Schanzer said...

Re the Sibert Awards:
At first glance, comparing picture books to YA books seems like comparing apples to oranges. For example, how could the Sibert committee compare 2 absolutely outstanding biographies of the same person if one is a lengthy YA book and the other is a picture book? By definition, the agendas of each book would be have to be totally different.

But an examination of the award selections makes me wonder. I've noticed that Sibert winners have certainly run the gamut and that at the very least, neither genre has been omitted.

During some years, the committee tends to pick very long books with serious topics (such as the 2002 winner Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine by Susan Campbell Bartoletti or the 2003 winner, The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler by James Cross Giblin). And other years the committee selects all picture books, though most of these feature serious topics too. (Serious picture book examples are the 2008 winner, The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sís, which contains very few words and 2009 winner We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, by author and illustrator Kadir Nelson, which has lots and lots of words...many of the other selected picture books are copy heavy too).

So who knows? Maybe using more than one category is the way to go, or maybe the award should just be for excellence in general. All awards have versions of this problem. Practically every year when the Oscars are handed out, people tend to complain that comedies rarely win for best picture and that if a losing comedy is a better movie than a winning drama, then that award makes no sense either.
Ad infinitum.