I Mean that in several ways.
Congratulations to Peter Sis for winning the Sibert for The Wall — a book that in many ways brings the personal into nonfiction. The New York Times, in reporting on the awards, noted that the Newbery and Caldecott winners were unusual kinds of books — mixtures of visual and text that go beyond the familiar categories. If you look at the Sibert winners, you also see in Lightship and Spiders, two heavily visual (and younger) forms of nonfiction. Which then leads me to the other sense of Good News. YALSA has agreed that it will be creating an older nonfiction award — the Sibert, an ALSC award, being limited to readers through 14 years old. So it seems we may be working towards two broad areas of nonfiction excellence (as judged by ALA): younger books that make innovative use of the blend of text and visuals, and then some as-yet-to-be-determined older set of criteria. Now visuals may play a role there as well — graphic novels are a great format for YA nonfiction — but I wonder if we will see Sibert settle in as a younger award, while the YALSA prize skews older.
I’ve mentioned this frequently before — the question of how nonfiction can be both accurate and personal. Peter has shown us one way. I continue to think that is an important for all ages — and books that are personal are going to run into opposition. Folks, that just will happen. But I am convinced they are the right direction for nonfiction in the Google universe.