Peter Sís wins 2008 Sibert Medal

Contacts: Macey Morales/Jennifer Petersen
ALA Media Relations
For Immediate Release,
January 14, 2008

Peter Sís wins 2008 Sibert Medal

PHILADELPHIA -Peter Sís, author and illustrator of “The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain,” was named the winner of the 2008 Robert F. Sibert Medal for the most distinguished informational book for children published in 2007. The announcement was made at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia, January 14.

In his deeply felt memoir set in mid-20th century Prague, Sís contrasts the constrictive walls of the communist state with his personal quest for artistic freedom. Black & white drawings accentuated with sharp punches of red are brightened with splashes of color as hope gradually takes hold. Sís takes us from his childhood, when fear, suspicion and lies permeated everyday life, to the “Prague Spring” of 1968 and beyond, a time when “everything seemed possible.” The book is published by Farrar/Frances Foster.

“Sís combines the personal and the political in a feat of visual and verbal storytelling,” said Sibert Chair Caroline Parr. “Young readers will learn about an extraordinary time through the detailed, intricate art and the simple but powerful text.”

Peter Sís, born in Czechoslovakia in 1949, was granted political asylum in the United States in 1982. He has twice won a Caldecott Honor Medal, is a six-time winner of The New York Times Book Review for Best Illustrated Book of the Year and has twice won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor. In 2003 he was named a MacArthur Fellow. He lives in the New York City area.

Two Sibert Honor Books were named: “Lightship,” written and illustrated by Brian Floca, published by Simon & Schuster/ Richard Jackson and “Nic Bishop Spiders,” written and illustrated by Nic Bishop, published by Scholastic/Scholastic Nonfiction.

In simple, stately prose that perfectly complements his luminous watercolors, Floca introduces the lightship Ambrose, its crew and cat. Masterful use of the historical present tense, deft, humorous touches and detailed endpapers engage young children while acknowledgments and notes in the book, fore and aft, provide context.

Even the squeamish will be awed by Bishop's oversized, dramatic and vibrant up-close color photographs of more than a dozen types of spiders in “Nic Bishop Spider.” His compelling, conversational and knowledgeable text provides basic information and startling facts which all ages will relish.

The award was established by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of ALA, with support from Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc. (BTSB), of Jacksonville, Ill., in honor of Robert F. Sibert, BTSB's longtime president. Sibert is known for his early work in establishing standards of bookbinding. The annual award is administered by ALSC.

Members of the 2008 Sibert Medal Committee are: Chair, Caroline Parr, Central Rappahannock Regional Library, Fredericksburg, Va.; Viki Ash, San Antonio Public Library; Patty Carleton, St. Louis Public Library; Connie Champlin, Library Consultant, Centerville, Mass.; Rosalind Chang, San Francisco Public Library; Judy Freeman, children's literature consultant, Highland Park, N.J.; Maren Ostergard, King County Library System, Issaquah, Wash.; Susan Pine, The New York Public Library; and Barbara Scotto, Children's Literature New England, Brookline, Mass.

For more information on the Sibert Medal and other ALA literary awards, please visit