Kadir Nelson wins 2009 Sibert Medal

Contacts: Macey Morales / Jennifer Petersen

ALA Media Relations


For Immediate Release

January 26, 2009

DENVER – Kadir Nelson, author and illustrator of “We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball,” was named the winner of the 2009 Robert F. Sibert Medal for the most distinguished informational book for children published in 2008. The award was announced today by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), during the ALA Midwinter Meeting held Jan. 23 – 28 in Denver.

“We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball,” is published by Disney-Jump at the Sun, an imprint of Disney Book Group. Kadir Nelson scores a home run with this fascinating and well-documented history of Negro League Baseball told in the voice of an “everyman” narrator. Dignified, riveting full-page illustrations capture the spirit of these larger-than-life men who loved the game, despite the prejudice they faced.

“Kadir Nelson’s eight years of research score a grand slam in his rookie writing effort,” said Sibert Committee Chair Carol Phillips. “This history of the Negro League entices fans and non-fans alike. His stunning oil paintings, based on archival photographs, illustrate grace, pride and discipline far beyond what words alone might convey.”

Universally acclaimed for his luminescent oil illustrations by critics and peers, Nelson, a Pratt Institute graduate, is a relative newcomer in the picture book world. During the past decade, he has garnered recognition from the Society of Illustrators and the Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Book Award Committees. This is his first authored book.

Two Sibert Honor Books were named: “Bodies From the Ice: Melting Glaciers and Rediscovery of the Past,” written by James M. Deem, published by Houghton Mifflin Company, and “What to Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy!,” written by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

“Bodies From the Ice” explores the archaeology of glacier science. Deem’s visual presentation engages readers through period newspaper illustrations, paintings, maps and photographs of ice mummies and artifacts from four continents. Twisted bleached bones, sacrificial victims and legendary climbers are the pinnacle of this en“
GROSS”ing account.

Growing up as the daughter of the President was not easy, but being the President and father of Alice Roosevelt was not easy either. Barbara Kerley’s playful use of language and Fotheringham’s rollicking illustrations converge to introduce energy and outrageousness in “What to Do About Alice?”

The award was established by ALSC and named to commemorate Mr. Robert F. Sibert, founder of Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc., of Jacksonville, Ill. Sibert is known for his early work in establishing standards of bookbinding.

Members of the 2009 Sibert Medal Committee are: Chair Carol K. Phillips, East Brunswick (N.J.) Public Library; Julie Bartel, Salt Lake City, Utah; Catharine Bomhold, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg; Linda M. Pavonetti, Oakland University, Rochester, Mich.; Vicki Stanfield, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, N.C.; John Warren Stewig, Carthage College, Kenosha, Wis.; Sylvia Vardell, Texas Woman’s University, Denton; and Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, Belcamp, Md.

ALSC is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. With a network of more than 4,200 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty, ALSC is committed to creating a better future for children through libraries. To learn more about ALSC, visit their Web site at

For information on the Robert F. Sibert Medal and other ALA literary awards, please visit