Meet the Panelists: Non-Fiction Picture Books Roundtable

Thanks to category organizer Fiona Bayrock of Books and 'Rocks, we have the opportunity to get to know the intrepid panelists for the Non-Fiction Picture Books category. Just about everything kids ever want to know about the world can be found in the pages of a good picture book, and our panelists are just as hungry to find the best, most kid-friendly nominees for the shortlist. Want some insights into what makes a great Cybils title? Read on.

If we were to file you in the nonfiction section of the library which Dewey Decimal number would you choose for yourself and why?

Becky Bilby (In the Pages): My Dewey number would be 779 – because I LOVE all things photography!!

Dave Judge (Adventures at Wilder Farm): I like to hang out in the history section of the library–either European or US history–so you could file me in the 940s or 970s. I also like looking through old newspapers and magazines in the 1870s-1930s time frame, so you could file me in the microfilm room as well.

Debbie Nance (Readerbuzz): I'd be happy anywhere in nonfiction, but if I wanted to be checked out a
lot, I'd hope to be put into 567, dinosaurs. πŸ™‚

Jone MacCulloch (Check It Out): 811–Poetry. I love writing poetry and feature a lot on my blog deowriter. I also would be shelved under photography because I always have a camera with me.

Tricia Stohr-Hunt (The Miss Rumphius Effect): You could put me anywhere in the 500s (science and math) and I’d be like a duck in water. My Dad taught science for nearly thirty years, so he often helped me conduct science experiments in the basement–just for fun! I copper-plated nails, built circuits, and spent endless hours perfecting my rock collection. I also spent a great deal of time outdoors, bringing home things living and dead to study. Today I’m still a nature girl, leading regular workshops on outdoor education for teachers.

What's your favorite pre-2008 nonfiction picture book and why?

Becky: Linnea in Monet's Garden by Cristina Bjork – I know, an oldie, but a goodie!

Dave: I have two favorites. I think One Thousand Tracings by Lita Judge is a fantastic book — beautifully written with a fascinating combination of illustrations, photo-collages and real objects. My favorite that wasn't written and illustrated by my wife, though, is The Boy Who Drew Birds by Jackie Davies and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.

Debbie: You are seriously asking me to choose ONE? Here are some I have loved: An Egg is Quiet; The Boy on Fairfield Street; Seymour Simon science books; Steve Jenkins animal books; Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs; Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story; Harvesting Hope; So You Want to Be President?; Wilma Unlimited…I could go on and on.

Jone: Nic Bishop Spiders. I love spiders and the photography is exquisite.

Tricia: One of my favorites is Actual Size by Steve Jenkins. Jenkins uses his signature cut and torn paper collage to illustrate 18 animals or a part of their body in actual size. The cover shows the hand of a gorilla. I still get chills when I place my hand over it and think about the fact that 98%-99% of our DNA is identical. Also included in this book are the dwarf goby fish, pygmy mouse lemur, bird-eating tarantula and more. The end matter offers full pictures of each animal and additional details about them. This is just a gorgeous book that while appearing deceptively simple, teaches readers much about observation, natural diversity, comparison and measurement.

Thanks to Fiona and to all the nominating panelists for participating–and for putting some NFPBs on my to-read pile!

–Sarah Stevenson, Deputy Editor