I’m pleased to share news of the winner of the Cybils Award for Nonfiction Picture Book published in 2009.
The Day-Glo Brothers
by Chris Barton; illustrated by Tony Persiani
Nominated by: Cynthia Leitich Smith
It’s hard to imagine a world without Day-Glo’s shocking greens, blazing oranges and screaming yellows. But before World War II, those colors didn’t exist. After an accident in a ketchup factory derailed Bob Switzer’s hope to be a doctor, he and his brother Joe, who was interested in magic, set out to find a paint that glowed. Eventually, the Switzers did what nobody else had — they invented new colors. The war produced a need for fluorescent paint, and today it’s everywhere. The brothers’ invention allowed both to do what they wanted; save lives and dazzle crowds.Helping to judge this Cybils category was a pleasure, and not just because the books are short and colorful. They all have strengths, and I learned a lot. Our final vote was close. I look forward to saying more about The Day-Glo Brothers and the other finalists in the coming weeks.
This book is the first on its topic, a result of original research from family interviews and newspaper clippings. Barton explains the science with a kid-friendly manner and an easy narrative style. Readers can relate to the brothers’ thwarted plans and celebrate their persistence. Persiani’s stylized art evolves with the story, from a dull gray to splashes of color to brilliant Day-Glo tones at the end.
Here are all the Cybils winners for this year.