In SLJ's Extra, the Mock Newbery Blog discussed whether nonfiction was often left out of the discussion due to the Sibert award. Is a nonfiction title overlooked because the committee can say, 'leave it for the Sibert." I don't know if that is consciously the case but it may be subconsciously. After all ,how can a committee weed through such a huge variety of applicants. Just as picture books may be subconsciously set aside for the Caldecott, or YA the Printz, all of those nonfiction titles must be dealt with somehow. It makes me wonder why the Newbery is not catagorized in the first place.
Every year we will have this discussion, because the Newbery is a contest that compares apples, oranges, kumquats, and watermelons. An impossible task that will never satisfy everyone. I, for one, never expect a nonfiction title to win the Newbery, and applaud the fact that the Sibert was created to give nonfiction the proper assessment, representation and honor that it deserves. I know my title, Farmer George Plants a Nation was on both tables this past year and I never once gave a thought that it would be seriously considered for the Newbery because it was nonfiction. (But I did have high hopes for Layne Johnson's Caldecott-worthy art work - Sorry, Layne!). However I did feel confident enough in the quality of the writing, presentation, design and artwork, and the starred reviews it received, that it would be taken seriously by the Sibert. I'll never know at what point it got tossed off the table, but I am happy that there was a table for it to sit on.
I believe that next year the Sibert winner should be sitting on the Today Show couch next to the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott. Let fiction have its Newbery. Let illustrators have their Caldecott. We have the Sibert!