Joyce Sidman wins 2019 Sibert Medal

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/28/2019


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations


seattle – Joyce Sidman, author of “The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science,” was named the winner of the 2019 Robert F. Sibert Medal for the most distinguished informational book for children published in 2018. 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 & Exhibits held January 25 - 29, in Seattle, Washington.

“The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science,” published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is about the remarkable contributions of Maria Sibylla Merian, a 17th century self-taught artist, pioneering entomologist and naturalist, and the first person to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly.

“Joyce Sidman crafts an engrossing, inspiring story of a woman who flouted the conventions of her time to pursue her passion for insects and a life devoted to discovery”, said Sibert Medal Committee Chair Kathy Jarombek.   

Poet Joyce Sidman was born and raised in Connecticut and now lives in Minnesota. She has written more than a dozen significant books for children, including the Newbery Honor-winning Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night. In her free time, she gardens, birdwatches and plays with her dog.

The Sibert Medal Committee selected Five Honor Books.

“Camp Panda: Helping Cubs Return to the Wild,” written by Catherine Thimmesh and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Thimmesh explains the work of a Giant Panda conservation project in the Wolong Nature Reserve in China, which uses a three-stage program to create a self-sustaining population in the wild. Complementing her thoughtful, engagingly written text are many arrestingly adorable, colorful photographs of pandas in training and in the wild.

Catherine Thimmesh, Sibert Medal-winning author of Team Moon, lives in Eden Prairie Minnesota with her husband and two children.

“Spooked!: How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America,” written by Gail Jarrow and published by Calkins Creek, an imprint of Highlights.

Brought to life with the immediacy of a science fiction film, Spooked! relays the development and radio production of Welles’s classic. Panicked first-person accounts record the hysteria and embarrassment of the duped public’s reactions to “fake news,” propaganda and censorship.

Gail Jarrow, a resident of Ithaca, New York, writes about topics from the past and makes them relevant to what is happening today.

“The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees,” written and illustrated by Don Brown and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

In a graphic novel format, Brown relates Syrian refugees’ attempts to escape the horrors of their country’s civil war. Pen-and-ink digitally colored art has an informal style that vividly expresses the intense emotions, offering a window into the humanity of displaced groups as well as their resilience, tenacity and inspiring, hopeful nature.

Don Brown, an award-winning author and illustrator of many picture book biographies, lives in New York with his family.

“We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga,” written by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frané Lessac and published by Charlesbridge.

Season by season, Sorell guides readers through a year of a contemporary Cherokee community, incorporating Cherokee vocabulary and syllabary throughout. Otsaliheliga expresses gratitude and reminds readers to celebrate and reflect on life’s blessings and challenges. Lessac’s lively artwork enhances this beautiful celebration of culture, family, community and life.

Traci Sorell lives in the Cherokee Nation. This is her debut picture book.

Frané Lessac has written and illustrated myriad picture books. Born in New Jersey, she lives in Australia.

“When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana,” written by Michael Mahin, illustrated by Jose Ramirez and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

Mahin’s lyrical picture book biography chronicles the early life of musical and cultural icon Carlos Santana. Readers see Carlos discover his passion, cultivating a musical style that draws from his mestizo heritage and experiences living between two cultures and countries. Ramirez’s vibrant, textured art reflects and amplifies Santana’s journey.

Michael Mahin is an author and screenwriter with a Ph.D. in American Literature. He lives in San Diego with his family.

Jose Ramirez is an artist and schoolteacher who lives in East Los Angeles with his family.

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 2019 Sibert Medal Committee are Chair Kathleen Busch Jarombek, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, Conn.; Kazia Berkley-Cramer, Watertown (Mass.) Free Public Library; Maria E. Gentle, Burke, Va.; Robin J. Howe, King County Library System, Kent, Wash.; Claire Moore, Manhattan Beach (Calif.) Library; Edward T. Sullivan, Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Margaret E. Tice, Magen David Yeshivah Elementary School, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Jade B. Valenzuela, Simms Library – Albuquerque (N.M.) Academy; and Eva Volin, Alameda (Calif.) Free Library.

 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 website at

For information on the Robert F. Sibert Medal and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit