Bilingual is Better
Photo by emilywjones

Photo by emilywjones

The American Library Association just concluded its 2009 Annual Conference a couple of days ago and according to many in attendance, one of the highlights was the Pura Belpré Celebration.

The winners of this coveted award – which recognizes the best in Latino children’s literature – were announced earlier this year, but the awards were actually given out on Sunday in Chicago during a ceremony many call nothing less than a pachanga.

According to the ALA’s website, the Pura Belpré Award, which was first awarded in 1996, “is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.”

The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. As a children’s librarian, storyteller, and author, she enriched the lives of Puerto Rican children in the U.S.A. through her pioneering work of preserving and disseminating Puerto Rican folklore.”

You might remember that a while back I reviewed one of the Author and Illustrator Honor Award 2009 winners, The Storyteller’s Candle, which happens to be the story of Pura Belpré herself told through the eyes of two cousins who move from Puerto Rico to NYC and are enthralled by the librarian’s talent to tell stories.

Here’s a list of the 2009 Pura Belpré Winners:

Author AwardThe Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle (published by Henry Holt). “Engle’s hauntingly beautiful free verse prose breathes life into this finely crafted story that illuminates Cuba’s fight for independence from Spain in the 1800’s. Told from the perspective of four distinct voices, Engle intricately weaves a harrowing, heart-wrenching story of enslavement, survival, determination and heroism.”

Illustrator AwardJust In Case, illustrated and written by Yuyi Morales (A Neal Porter Book published by Roaring Brook Press). “Morales’ vibrant, shimmering jewel-tone colors masterfully capture the exuberant and playful story of Señor Calavera’s quest to find the perfect birthday gift for Grandma Beetle. Part ghost story, part trickster tale, the book features motifs from Mexican culture that represent each letter of the Spanish alphabet.”

Author Honor AwardsJust In Case, illustrated and written by Yuyi Morales (A Neal Porter Book published by Roaring Brook Press).

Reaching Out by Francisco Jiménez (Houghton Mifflin Company).

The Storyteller’s Candle / La velita de los cuentos,” written by Lucía González, illustrated by Lulu Delacre (Children’s Book Press).

Illustrator Honor AwardsPapá and Me, illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez, written by Arthur Dorros (Rayo, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers).

The Storyteller’s Candle / La velita de los cuentos, illustrated by Lulu Delacre, written by Lucía González (Children’s Book Press).

What Can You Do With a Rebozo? illustrated by Amy Córdova, written by Carmen Tafolla (Tricycle Press, an imprint of Ten Speed Press).

I am sure all of these books are worth checking out. I can’t tell you how happy I am to continue to discover so many great titles in Latino children’s literature. Next week, we will launch our monthly series, ReadMe, dedicated to literacy and bilingualism. Can’t wait to share it with you!

In the meantime, I wanted to share this absolutely awesome video that this year’s Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner (who also got an Honor Author Award), Yuyi Morales, put together as part of her acceptance speech this week at the Pura Belpré Celebration. Enjoy!

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