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Pura Belpré Award

Presented annually since 1996 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. It is cosponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate.

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      Soldier for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War

      by Duncan Tonatiuh

      Dec 2019

      Biography Elementary Plus

      2020 Author Honoree
      José de la Luz Sáenz believed in fighting for what was right. Although he was born in the United States, he and his family experienced prejudice because of their Mexican heritage. When World War I broke out, Luz volunteered to join the fight. Because of his ability to quickly learn languages, he became part of the Intelligence Office in Europe. However, despite his hard work and intellect, Luz often didn’t receive credit for his contributions. Upon his return to the US, he joined other Mexican-Americans whom he had met in the army to fight for equality. His contribution, along with others, ultimately led to the creation of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), which is the oldest Latino civil rights organization.

      Author’s note. Source for quotations. Time lines. Select bibliography. Glossary. Photograph of José de la Luz Saenz. Index. Full-color illustrations were hand drawn, then collaged digitally.

      Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln

      by Margarita Engle

      Oct 2019

      Nonfiction Early Elementary Plus

      2020 Illustrator Winner

      As a little girl, Teresa Carreño loved to let her hands dance across the beautiful keys of the piano. If she felt sad, music cheered her up, and when she was happy, the piano helped her share that joy. Soon she was writing her own songs and performing in grand cathedrals. Then a revolution in Venezuela forced her family to flee to the United States. Teresa felt lonely in this unfamiliar place, where few of the people she met spoke Spanish. Worst of all, there was fighting in her new home, too—the Civil War.

      Still, Teresa kept playing, and soon she grew famous as the talented Piano Girl who could play anything from a folk song to a sonata. So famous, in fact, that President Abraham Lincoln wanted her to play at the White House! Yet with the country torn apart by war, could Teresa’s music bring comfort to those who needed it most?



      Historical note. Full-color mixed-media illustrations.

      The Other Half of Happy

      by Rebecca Balcárcel

      Oct 2019

      Advanced Readers Plus

      2020 Author Honoree
      Quijana is a girl in pieces. One-half Guatemalan, one-half American: When Quijana's Guatemalan cousins move to town, her dad seems ashamed that she doesn't know more about her family's heritage. One-half crush, one-half buddy: When Quijana meets Zuri and Jayden, she knows she's found true friends. But she can't help the growing feelings she has for Jayden. One-half kid, one-half grown-up: Quijana spends her nights Skyping with her ailing grandma and trying to figure out what's going on with her increasingly hard-to-reach brother. In the course of this immersive and beautifully written novel, Quijana must figure out which parts of herself are most important, and which pieces come together to make her whole. This lyrical debut from Rebecca Balcárcel is a heartfelt poetic portrayal of a girl growing up, fitting in, and learning what it means to belong.


      Character quotes. Quotes from Don Quixote. Poem. List of quoted poems. Game instructions. Science notes.

      Mi papi tiene una moto (My Papi Has a Motorcycle)

      by Isabel Quintero

      Sep 2019

      Primary Spanish

      2020 Illustrator Honoree
      When Daisy Ramona zooms around her neighborhood with her papi on his motorcycle, she sees the people and places she’s always known. She also sees a community that is rapidly changing around her. But as the sun sets purple-blue-gold behind Daisy Ramona and her papi, she knows that the love she feels will always be there.

      Author’s note. Full-color digital illustrations created with a mix of hand-painted watercolor texture.

      ¡Vamos!: Let's Go to the Market!

      by Raul the Third

      Jul 2019

      Multicultural Elementary

      2020 Illustrator Honoree
      Bilingual in a new way, this paper over board book teaches readers simple words in Spanish as they experience the bustling life of a border town. Follow Little Lobo and his dog Bernabe as they deliver supplies to a variety of vendors, selling everything from sweets to sombreros, portraits to piñatas, carved masks to comic books!

      Glossary. Full-color illustrations done in ink and colored in Photoshop.

      Sal and Gabi Break the Universe

      by Carlos Hernandez

      Jul 2019

      Upper Elementary & Junior High Plus

      2020 Author Winner

      Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents a brilliant sci-fi romp with Cuban influence that poses this question: What would you do if you had the power to reach through time and space and retrieve anything you want, including your mother, who is no longer living (in this universe, anyway)?

      How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany's locker?

      When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn't under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal's office for the third time in three days, and it's still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany's locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared.

      Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he's capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken--including his dead mother--and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There's only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk.

      A sassy entropy sweeper, a documentary about wedgies, a principal who wears a Venetian bauta mask, and heaping platefuls of Cuban food are just some of the delights that await in his mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter.

      Sembrando historias (Planting Stories): Pura Belpré, bibliotecaria y narradora de cuentos (The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre)

      by Anika Aldamuy Denise

      Apr 2019

      Primary Spanish

      2020 Author Honoree
      When Pura Belpré came to America in 1921, she carried with her a passion for her homeland’s cuentos folklóricos. She became a New York City librarian renowned for her story hours—and continued to share Puerto Rican folktales across the United States by turning them into libros.
      Author’s note. Selected bibliography. Further resources. Further reading. Stories by Pura Belpré mentioned in the book. Full-color digital illustrations created in Photoshop.

      Dreamers

      by Yuyi Morales

      Feb 2019

      Nonfiction Early Elementary

      2019 Illustrator Winner
      In 1994, Yuyi Morales left her home in Xalapa, Mexico and came to the US with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn’t come empty-handed.
      She brought her strength, her work, her passion, her hopes and dreams…and her stories. Caldecott Honor artist and six-time Pura Belpré winner Yuyi Morales’s gorgeous picture book Dreamers is about making a home in a new place. Yuyi and her son Kelly’s passage was not easy, and Yuyi spoke no English whatsoever at the time. But together, they found an unexpected, unbelievable place: the public library. There, book by book, they untangled the language of this strange new land, and learned to make their home within it.
      Dreamers is a celebration of what migrantes bring with them when they leave their homes. It’s a story about family. And it’s a story to remind us that we are all dreamers, bringing our own gifts wherever we roam. Beautiful and powerful at any time but given particular urgency as the status of our own Dreamers becomes uncertain, this is a story that is both topical and timeless.
      The lyrical text is complemented by sumptuously detailed illustrations, rich in symbolism. Also included are a brief autobiographical essay about Yuyi’s own experience, a list of books that inspired her (and still do), and a description of the beautiful images, textures, and mementos she used to create this book.
      Author’s note. “Books That Have Inspired Me.” Full-color illustrations created with acrylic paints, pen and ink, and scanned photos.

      When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana

      by Michael Mahin

      Nov 2018

      Arts Elementary Plus

      2019 Illustrator Honor
      Carlos Santana loved to listen to his father play el violín. It was a sound that filled the world with magic and love and feeling and healing—a sound that made angels real. Carlos wanted to make angels real, too. So he started playing music.
      Carlos tried el clarinete and el violín, but there were no angels. Then he picked up la guitarra. He took the soul of the Blues, the brains of Jazz, and the energy of Rock and Roll, and added the slow heat of Afro-Cuban drums and the cilantro-scented sway of the music he’d grown up with in Mexico. There were a lot of bands in San Francisco but none of them sounded like this. Had Carlos finally found the music that would make his angels real?
      Author’s note. Bibliography. Further listening. Full-color illustrations created with acrylic and enamel markers on canvas.

      The Poet X (Audiobook)

      by Elizabeth Acevedo

      Nov 2018

      Audiobook Mature Young Adult

      2019 Author Winner
      Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.
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