The Year of the Personal Voice in Nonfiction
Congratulations, once again, to Peter Sis for yet another prize — this time the Boston Globe Horn Book nonfiction award — for The Wall www.petersis.com/content/wall_fr.html I am sending you to his site because you can explore a bit beyond just getting the cover — and same with the two sites below.
The Wall fits perfectly, almost too perfectly, with what I previously wrote about We Are the Ship www.kadirnelson.com/Books.html, and How I Learned Geography us.macmillan.com/author/urishulevitz. These three books have garnered galaxies of stars, and I am sure Kadir and Uri will soon be winning prizes just as Peter has. What do they have in common? They are personal. They get to information through a commitment, an experience, a life story of the author’s. All three are illustrated by the author’s but they range in reading age from, what, elementary for Uri through middle grade or even YA for Kadir then Peter. So clearly the personal voice is not limited to any one age range. And if I can be a bit self-promoting the strong reviews for Ain’t Nothing But a Man www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/04/13/books/review/downes-slideshow_index.html have also appreciated the "I," the personal quality of Scott’s search.
Though the pub dates of these books stretch over a couple of years, I suggest we declare this the Year of the Personal Voice in Nonfiction. Maybe it is that the Sibert has been around long enough to not just reward effort but to encourage experiment, maybe it is coincidence, but clearly something is changing in nonfiction for younger readers. Instead of needing the assurance of omniscience, we now recognize the power of the personal — the commitment, the voice, the passion — indeed the conflicts — of the author.
I am on my way to Annual next week — I look forward to meeting any of you who will be there, and continuing this discussion.