Yes, it’s taken me a while to get to the fourth award. But there is no better time to do it! Why? Chicago is celebrating Día de los Niños on April 24. You might find other celebrations this time of year. On or around April 30, many libraries observe Children’s Day/Book Day, also known as El día de los niños/El día de los libros or just plain “Día.” It is a day to celebrate children, families, and reading. The celebration emphasizes the importance of literacy for children of every language and culture.
That brings me to this year’s winners of the Pura Belpré Award. It is given each year to a Latino or 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 illustrator award this year recognizes a book about Día!
Book Fiesta: Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day; Celebremos El día de los niños/El día de los libros, illustrated by Rafael López, written by Pat Mora
The illustrations are full of bright colors, favorite animals, and happy children celebrating Día. The book is written in both Spanish and English, and includes ideas for celebrating Día. Fun fact: author Pat Mora is actually the person who got Día started!
Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez wins this year’s author award.
Two struggling families come together in this story, as Tyler’s family tries to hold on to the family farm and Mari’s family comes to the U.S. looking for a better life.
Diego: Bigger than Life, written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand and illustrated by David Diaz, won honors for both the author and the illustrator. It tells the story of artist Diego Rivera in poems.
Federico Garcia Lorca, written by Georgina Lázaro and illustrated by Enrique S. Moreiro, was the other book to win an honor for the author. This one is written in Spanish, and tells the story of a famous poet and playwright.
My Abuelita, illustrated by Yuyi Morales and written by Tony Johnston earned an illustrator honor for its creative and very unusual illustrations. They are made by digitally photographing handmade puppets.
Gracias Thanks, illustrated by John Parra and written by Pat Mora, also earned an honor for its illustrations. The words in Spanish and English, and the illustrations (which bring to mind folk art), describe the everyday things that make a boy want to give thanks.
If all this makes you wonder, “Just who is this Pura Belpré person, anyway?” then I encourage you to check out The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos. This bilingual picture book, which won honors for the author and the illustrator last year, shows librarian Pura Belpré at work in a New York Public Library. -Miss Sarah