Marc Aronson wins first-ever Robert F. Sibert Award

Contact: Larra Clark


ALA News Release

For Immediate Release

January 2001

Marc Aronson wins first-ever Robert F. Sibert Award

Marc Aronson, author of "Sir Walter Ralegh and the Quest for El Dorado," was named the winner of the Robert F. Sibert Award for most distinguished informational book for children published in 2000. The book, published by Clarion Books, portrays the adventurous life of Sir Walter Ralegh and his quest to find the legendary city of El Dorado and the fate of the famous Lost Colony he sponsored in the New World.

The announcement was made January 15 during the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in Washington, D.C. The annual award is administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the ALA.

The award is sponsored by Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc., of Jacksonville, Ill., in honor of Robert F. Sibert, its longtime president. Sibert is known for his early work in establishing standards for book binding. In this biography, Aronson draws on the events, intrigues and literature of Elizabethan times to create a richly layered account of "the first modern man". Ralegh's search for El Dorado drives the elegantly structured plot and serves as a unifying allegory.

"Aronson's exemplary scholarship is evident everywhere in the text and accompanying matter, including the archival reproductions and thorough documentation that together explain and extend the narrative," said award committee chair Susan Faust. "Combined with beautiful bookmaking and eloquent storytelling, this book sets a clear standard of excellence in its presentation of a person in his time."

Formerly a senior editor at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, Aronson is now vice president and editorial director at Carus Publishing. He is the author of "Art Attack: A Short Cultural History of the Avant-Garde," also from Clarion Books, and lives in New York City with his wife and son.

Four Sibert Honor Books also were named: "The Longitude Prize," by Joan Dash, illustrations by Dusan Petricic, published by Frances Foster Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux; "Blizzard!: The Storm That Changed America," by Jim Murphy, published by Scholastic Press, a division of Scholastic Inc.; "My Season with Penguins: an Antarctic Journal," by Sophie Webb, published by Houghton Mifflin Company; and "Pedro and Me: Friendship, Loss, and What I Learned," written and illustrated by Judd Winick, published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Set in the exciting historical framework of the 18th century, "The Longitude Prize," chronicles the invention of a seagoing clock by John Harrison and the surrounding scientific, economic and political activity of 18th-century Great Britain. Petricic's black-and-white illustrations chart with levity Harrison's drive to solve the longitude problem with his clocks and his struggle to receive recognition for his ultimate achievement. A detailed glossary and concise timeline complement the book's bibliography and index. Dash lives in Seattle and is the author of numerous books, including a forthcoming biography of Helen Keller.

Murphy's "Blizzard!: The Storm That Changed America," is a gripping tale about the disastrous storm that blasted the Eastern seaboard in March 1888. "This work combines splendid storytelling, faultless research, thorough analysis and thoughtful design," Faust said. Lending immediacy are eyewitness accounts and evocative visual material. To underscore the historical context, Murphy highlights changes made in weather forecasting and city design after the blizzard.

In "My Season with Penguins: an Antarctic Journal," Webb deftly uses illustrated journal entries to document her participation in a two-month expedition to Antarctica to study Adelie penguins in 1996. She includes absorbing details of daily life for a scientist in the field, as well as the life and behavior of penguins. Clear prose and engaging illustrations done in watercolor, gouache and graphite convey how an ornithologist works and lives in the field.

In "Pedro and Me: Friendship, Loss, and What I Learned," cartoonist Winick tells the true story of his friendship with AIDS-educator Pedro Zamora in a graphic-novel format. "Important lessons are presented in a style friendly to young teens," Faust said. Learning from the friend he met on MTV's "The Real World," Winick continues Pedro's work even after his death.

Other members of the award selection committee are: Karen Breen of Kirkus Reviews; Carol M. Dumont, Children's Center librarian at Dallas Public Library; Kathleen Isaacs of Edmund Burke School, Washington, D.C.; Nina Lindsay of Oakland (Calif.) Public Library; Cathryn M. Mercier of Simmons College Center for the Study of Children's Literature, Boston, Mass.; and Ken Setterington of Toronto Public Library.

More information on the
Sibert Award can be found online.