Melissa Sweet wins 2012 Sibert Medal

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/23/2012


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations


DALLAS – Melissa Sweet, author and illustrator of “Balloons over Broadway:  The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade” was named the winner of the 2012 Robert F. Sibert Medal for the most distinguished informational book for children published in 2011. 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. 20 – 24 in Dallas.

“Balloons over Broadway:  The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade,” published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, is about Tony Sarg, the artistic inventor who conceived the huge balloons that float through New York City each Thanksgiving. Beginning at a very young age, his never-ending zeal for play and discovery delighted millions, and likewise, Sweet’s festive words, mixed media illustrations and thorough research, bring their own contagious joy to this celebration of his life’s creative process.

“Sweet’s book rose above all others this year by brilliantly showing and telling the story of one person’s ideas with passion and panache, demonstrating the very best of what an informational book can be,” said Sibert Medal Committee Chair Andrew Medlar.

Melissa Sweet grew up in New Jersey, attended Kansas City Art Institute, and currently lives in Maine.  She has created dozens of diverse children’s books and is a recipient of a 2009 Caldecott Honor Award for her illustrations in “A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams.”


The Sibert Medal Committee selectedfourHonor Books:

"Black & White:  The Confrontation between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene ‘Bull’ Connor," written by Larry Dane Brimnerand published by Calkins Creek, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, Inc.

This powerful examination of a crucial dichotomy in the civil rights movement focuses on two polar opposites—one man committed to ending segregation, and one just as determined to see it maintained—with visual elements as arresting as the stimulating words.

Brimner resides in Tucson, Arizona, and has written over 100 books for children in a career spanning a quarter of a century.

"Drawing from Memory," written and illustrated by Allen Sayand published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc. 

Say, an esteemed children’s book creator, engagingly relays his early training, including the influences of his family and his artistic sensei, by filling his distinct scrapbook format with captivating text and dynamic illustrative styles, from watercolors to comics, which exudes enthusiasm and talent. 

Say, winner of the 1994 Caldecott Medal for “Grandfather’s Journey”, draws inspiration from his childhood in Japan, and currently lives in Portland, Oregon.

"The Elephant Scientist," written by Caitlin O’Connell and Donna M. Jackson, photographs byCaitlin O’Connell and Timothy Rodwelland published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Power-packed photos and prose transport readers to the dusty world of African elephants and a woman who studies such large mysteries as how they use their feet and trunks to communicate with other animals and sense distant thunder.  Throughout, O'Connell, Jackson, and Rodwell keep readers constantly engaged with curiosity sparked by the latest discoveries from the field.

Dr. O’Connell serves on the faculty of the Stanford School of Medicine; Jackson is a Colorado resident; and Dr. Rodwell lives in San Diego, Calif.

"Witches!:  The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem" written and illustrated by Rosalyn Schanzerand published by the National Geographic Society.

Whether being introduced or reintroduced to the topic, readers will be stunned by the research and accusations in this pivotal drama of American history.  With a size reminiscent of a prayer book and startling scratchboard-style illustrations, this work of art presents an account of our past and asks questions of our future.

Schanzer, a widely traveled author, swimmer and photographer, is a nationally honored artist based in Virginia.

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 2012 Sibert Medal Committee are:  Chair Andrew Medlar, Chicago Public Library; Roxane L. Bartelt, Kenosha (Wis.) Public Library; Marian L. Creamer, Children’s Literature Alive!, Portland, Ore.; Karen MacPherson, Takoma Park (Md.) Library; April Mazza, Wayland (Mass.) Free Public Library; Susan Z. Melcher, Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, Ky.; Patty Saidenberg, George Jackson Academy, New York; Denise Schmidt, San Francisco Public Library; and Deborah Taylor, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore.


ALSC is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. With a network of more than 4,000 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 Youth Media Awards, please visit