Susan Campbell Bartoletti wins Robert F. Sibert Award

Contact: Paige Wasson


For Immediate Release

January 21, 2002

Susan Campbell Bartoletti wins Robert F. Sibert Award

Susan Campbell Bartoletti, author of "Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850," was named the winner of the 2002
Robert F. Sibert Award for most distinguished informational book for children published in 2001. The book, published by Houghton Mifflin Company, brings alive the events of the tragic Irish potato famine of 1845-1850.

The announcement was made January 21 during the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in New Orleans. 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.

"Using first-hand accounts, illustrations and documents from archival sources, Bartoletti recreates the milieu of a century and a half ago, and links the lives of ordinary people to larger social, cultural and political issues," Sibert Award Committee Chair Nina Lindsay said. "A model of engaging scholarship and accessible social history, Bartoletti's beautifully designed book makes clear the long-lasting impact of this event and the economic and political issues that lead to famine today."

Bartoletti taught eighth-grade English for 18 years and is currently working on a Ph.D. in creative writing at Binghamton University. Among the other children's books she has written are "Kids on Strike!" and "Growing Up in Coal Country." She lives in Moscow, Pa.

Three Sibert Honor Books also were named: "Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps," by Andrea Warren, published by HarperCollins; "Vincent van Gogh: Portrait of an Artist," by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, published by Delacorte Press; and "Brooklyn Bridge," written and illustrated by Lynn Curlee, Simon & Schuster/Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

"Surviving Hitler," is the powerful story of Jack Mandelbaum, who as a teenager was torn from a life of warmth and family love, to spend three horrific years in a concentration camp. Vintage photographs, effective design and engrossing narrative introduce the reader to a man who still refuses to be consumed by hate, choosing instead to live a life of tolerance and forgiveness. Warren currently lives in Prairie Village, Kan. Her other children's books include "Orphan Train Rider: One Boy's True Story," (1996), a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner and ALA Notable Book.

In "Vincent van Gogh," Greenberg and Jordan detail van Gogh's life in a compelling and engaging narrative that deftly incorporates quotes from his letters, and vividly portrays the circumstances that so influenced the painter's work and tormented life. The authors adeptly use first-hand material and paintings in their thoughtful interpretation of this passionate genius. Greenberg and Jordan are collaborative authors of many acclaimed artist profiles written for young people, including "Frank O. Gehry: Outside In," (2000) and "Chuck Close Up Close," (1998). Greenberg, a teacher and art educator, lives in St. Louis, and Jordan, an editor and photographer, lives in New York.

Elegant paintings, fascinating diagrams and compelling prose convey the tortuous creation of the New York and Brooklyn Bridge. Explaining both the drama and the engineering, "Brooklyn Bridge" captivates readers of all ages by documenting the technical challenge and human perseverance that resulted in a practical structure that serves as a metaphoric victory for civilization. Curlee provides a rich contextual view of the costs and triumphs inherent in the realization of great achievements. Curlee currently resides in Long Island, and is the illustrator of "Horses with Wings," written by Dennis Haseley.

Members of the 2002 Sibert Informational Book Award Committee are: Nina Lindsay, Oakland (Calif.) Public Library; Carol M. Dumont, Dallas Public Library; Melissa R. Gross, Florida State University, Tallahassee; Linnea M. Hendrickson, Bandelier Elementary School, Albuquerque, N.M.; Cathy L. Ormsby, San Antonio (Texas) Public Library, San Antonio; and John Sigwald, Unger Memorial Library, Plainview, TX.