Kevin Noble Maillard, Juana Martinez-Neal win 2020 Sibert Medal

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/27/2020


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations


PHILADELPHIA – Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez-Neal, author and illustrator of “Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story” were named the winners of the 2020 Robert F. Sibert Medal for the most distinguished informational book for children published in 2019. 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 24 - 28, in Philadelphia.

“Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story,” published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings, is a concept book that informs from cover to cover through the lens of a contemporary family. From shape to smell, readers learn how shared traditions of fry bread transcend land, tribal nations, and time. With extensive supporting notes, “Fry Bread” is both joyful celebration and an important cultural history.     

"Maillard's jubilant, affirmative text and Martinez-Neal's cozy, detailed illustrations portray fry bread as a means of connection to family, cultural survival, and a strong future," said Sibert Medal Committee Chair Sally Miculek.  

Kevin Noble Maillard, is a professor and journalist currently living in New York. This is his first children's book. Kevin is a member of the Seminole Nation, Mekusukey Band.

Juana Marinez-Neal was born in Lima, Peru and now lives in Scottsdale, Arizona. She's the recipient of the 2018 Pura Belpré Award for her illustrations in “La Princesa and the Pea” and a 2019 Caldecott Honor for “Alma and How She Got Her Name.”

The Sibert Medal Committee selected four Honor Books.

“All in a Drop: How Antony van Leeuwenhoek Discovered an Invisible World,” written by Lori Alexander, illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 

With approachable language and child-friendly illustrations this slim biography about the Father of Microbiology shows readers that regardless of formal education and prestige, curiosity and ingenuity can lead to scientific success. This everyday man invented a microscope so powerful that the living world was magnified to an astonishing scale.  

Lori Alexander born in sunny San Diego, California currently resides in Tucson, Arizona, with her scientist husband and her three littles; two children and one pup. She is the author four children’s books.

Vivien Mildenberger graduated from the ArtCenter College of Design with honors in Illustration, she resides in Nashville, Tennessee where she lives on a farm and creates magic.

“This Promise of Change: One Girl's Story in the Fight for School Equality,” written by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy and published by Bloomsbury Children's Books.

This engaging, powerful memoir in verse details 14 year-old Boyce’s experiences during the desegregation of her high school as one of the Clinton 12 in Tennessee. Text from primary sources adds to the authenticity and demonstrates the extensive research that supplements her memories.

Debut author Jo Ann Allen Boyce, born in Clinton, Tennessee, was part of the Clinton 12 that desegregated her high school. A retired nurse, she lives in Los Angeles.

Debbie Levy is the award-winning author of many books of nonfiction and fiction. She won the 2017 Sydney Taylor Book Award for "I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark." She lives in Maryland with her family.

“Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir,” written by Nikki Grimes, published by WordSong, an imprint of Highlights.

This distinguished memoir in verse highlights Nikki Grimes’ formative years. In detailing the people, places and events that shaped her life, Grimes relates to young readers that no matter what they’ve been through, or perhaps because of what they’ve been through, they have a story to tell.

Nikki Grimes was born and raised in New York City and currently lives in Corona, California. She is the 2017 recipient of the Children's Literature Legacy Award.

“Hey, Water!” written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis, and published by Neal Porter Books, Holiday House. 

“Hey, Water!” celebrates water in its many forms and pathways, speaking to the youngest reader with simple--but not simplistic--language, clear labels, contrasting colors, and varied scale that convey accurate information on every page. Supporting diagrams and a note on conservation expand this concept book for a broader audience.

Antoinette Portis lives in Southern California.  She is the author of many books, including 2007 Geisel Honoree, “Not a Box.”

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

Members of the 2020 Sibert Medal Committee are Chair Sally Miculek, Georgetown (Texas) Public Library; Armin Arethna, Berkeley (Calif.) Public Library; Dr. Joan Atkinson, University of Alabama SLIS, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Edith Campbell, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Ind.; Eric Carpenter, Toomer Elementary School, Atlanta; Christy Estrovitz, San Francisco Public Library; Christi Showman Farrar, Massachusetts Library System, Marlborough, Mass.; Lisa Nabel, Kitsap Regional Library,  Bremerton, Wash.; and Dr. Ellen Pozzi, William Paterson University, Wayne, N.J.

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 members are committed to engaging communities to build healthy, successful futures for all 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