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The Pura Belpré Award, established 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. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), divisions of the American Library Association (ALA), and the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking ( REFORMA), an ALA affiliate.
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.
The award is now given annually. It was given as a biennial award from 1996 through 2008. Beginning with the 2021 award, the Young Adult Author category was added with YALSA's partnership.
¡Vamos! Let's Go Eat by Raul Gonzalez (Illustrator); Elaine Bay
Little Lobo returns to share his love of food and wrestling in this delicious follow-up to Vamos! Let's Go to the Market from Pura Belpré Medal-winning illustrator Raúl the Third. Little Lobo is excited to take in a show with wrestling star El Toro in his bustling border town. After getting lunch orders from The Bull and his friends to help prepare for the event, Little Lobo takes readers on a tour of food trucks that sell his favorite foods, like quesadillas with red peppers and Mexican-Korean tacos. Peppered with easy-to-remember Latin-American Spanish vocabulary, this glorious celebration of food is sure to leave every reader hungry for lunch! Jam-packed with fun details and things to see, the Vamos! books are perfect for fans of Richard Scarry and Where's Waldo?.
Current Pura Belpre Young Adult Author Winner
Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez
In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life. At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother's narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother's shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father. On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she'd get an athletic scholarship to a North American university. But the path ahead isn't easy. Her parents don't know about her passion. They wouldn't allow a girl to play fútbol - and she needs their permission to go any farther. And the boy she once loved is back in town. Since he left, Diego has become an international star, playing in Italy for the renowned team Juventus. Camila doesn't have time to be distracted by her feelings for him. Things aren't the same as when he left: she has her own passions and ambitions now, and La Furia cannot be denied. As her life becomes more complicated, Camila is forced to face her secrets and make her way in a world with no place for the dreams and ambition of a girl like her. Filled with authentic details and the textures of day-to-day life in Argentina, heart-soaring romance, and breathless action on the pitch, Furia is the story of a girl's journey to make her life her own.
Current Pura Belpre Author Winner
Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros
Efrén Nava's Amá is his Superwoman--or Soperwoman, named after the delicious Mexican sopes his mother often prepares. Both Amá and Apá work hard all day to provide for the family, making sure Efrén and his younger siblings Max and Mía feel safe and loved. But Efrén worries about his parents; although he's American-born, his parents are undocumented. His worst nightmare comes true one day when Amá doesn't return from work and is deported across the border to Tijuana, México. Now more than ever, Efrén must channel his inner Soperboy to help take care of and try to reunite his family. A glossary of Spanish words is included in the back of the book.
"We need books to break open our hearts, so that we might feel more deeply, so that we might be more human in these unkind times. This is a book doing work of the spirit in a time of darkness." -- Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street
Current Pura Belpre Honor Books
Illustrator Honor Book
Sharuko by Monica Brown; Elisa Chavarri (Illustrator)A fascinating bilingual picture book biography of Peruvian archaeologist and national icon Julio C. Tello, who unearthed Peru's ancient cultures and fostered pride in the country's Indigenous history. Growing up in the late 1800s, Julio Tello, an Indigenous boy, spent time exploring the caves and burial grounds in the foothills of the Peruvian Andes. Nothing scared Julio, not even the ancient human skulls he found. His bravery earned him the boyhood nickname Sharuko, which means "brave" in Quechua, the language of the Native people of Peru. At the age of twelve, Julio moved to Lima to continue his education. While in medical school, he discovered an article about the skulls he had found. The skulls had long ago been sent to Lima to be studied by scientists. The article renewed Julio's interest in his ancestry, and he decided to devote his medical skills to the study of Peru's Indigenous history. Over his lifetime, Julio Tello made many revolutionary discoveries at archaeological sites around Peru, and he worked to preserve the historical treasures he excavated. He showed that Peru's Indigenous cultures had been established thousands of years ago, disproving the popular belief that Peruvian culture had been introduced more recently from other countries. He fostered pride in his country's Indigenous ancestry, making him a hero to all Peruvians. Because of the brave man once known as Sharuko, people around the world today know of Peru's long history and its living cultural legacy.
Author Honor Books
The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna CuevasIn this magical middle-grade debut novel from Adrianna Cuevas, a Cuban American boy must use his secret ability to communicate with animals to save the inhabitants of his town when they are threatened by a tule vieja, a witch that transforms into animals. All Nestor Lopez wants is to live in one place for more than a few months and have dinner with his dad. When he and his mother move to a new town to live with his grandmother after his dad's latest deployment, Nestor plans to lay low. He definitely doesn't want to anyone find out his deepest secret: that he can talk to animals. But when the animals in his new town start disappearing, Nestor's grandmother becomes the prime suspect after she is spotted in the woods where they were last seen. As Nestor investigates the source of the disappearances, he learns that they are being seized by a tule vieja--a witch who can absorb an animal's powers by biting it during a solar eclipse. And the next eclipse is just around the corner... Now it's up to Nestor's extraordinary ability and his new friends to catch the tule vieja--and save a place he might just call home.
Lupe Wong Won't Dance by Donna Barba HigueraMy gym shorts burrow into my butt crack like a frightened groundhog. Don't you want to read a book that starts like that?? Lupe Wong is going to be the first female pitcher in the Major Leagues. She's also championed causes her whole young life. Some worthy ... like expanding the options for race on school tests beyond just a few bubbles. And some not so much ... like complaining to the BBC about the length between Doctor Who seasons. Lupe needs an A in all her classes in order to meet her favorite pitcher, Fu Li Hernandez, who's Chinacan/Mexinese just like her. So when the horror that is square dancing rears its head in gym? Obviously she's not gonna let that slide. Not since Millicent Min, Girl Genius has a debut novel introduced a character so memorably, with such humor and emotional insight. Even square dancing fans will agree...
Young Adult Author Honor Books
Never Look Back by Lilliam RiveraAcclaimed author Lilliam Rivera blends a touch of magical realism into a timely story about cultural identity, overcoming trauma, and the power of first love. Eury comes to the Bronx as a girl haunted. Haunted by losing everything in Hurricane Maria--and by an evil spirit, Ato. She fully expects the tragedy that befell her and her family in Puerto Rico to catch up with her in New York. Yet, for a time, she can almost set this fear aside, because there's this boy . . . Pheus is a golden-voiced, bachata-singing charmer, ready to spend the summer on the beach with his friends, serenading his on-again, off-again flame. That changes when he meets Eury. All he wants is to put a smile on her face and fight off her demons. But some dangers are too powerful for even the strongest love, and as the world threatens to tear them apart, Eury and Pheus must fight for each other and their lives. Featuring contemporary Afro-Latinx characters, this retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice is perfect for fans of Ibi Zoboi's Pride and Daniel José Older's Shadowshaper.
"Expertly blends reality and fantasy to explore what's behind love and loss, what it takes to heal." - Randy Ribay, author of National Book Award finalist Patron Saints of Nothing.
We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres SanchezA poignant novel of desperation, escape, and survival across the U.S.-Mexico border, inspired by current events.
Pulga has his dreams. Chico has his grief. Pequeña has her pride. And these three teens have one another. But none of them have illusions about the town they''ve grown up in and the dangers that surround them. Even with the love of family, threats lurk around every corner. And when those threats become all too real, the trio knows they have no choice but to run: from their country, from their families, from their beloved home. Crossing from Guatemala through Mexico, they follow the route of La Bestia, the perilous train system that might deliver them to a better life--if they are lucky enough to survive the journey. With nothing but the bags on their backs and desperation drumming through their hearts, Pulga, Chico, and Pequeña know there is no turning back, despite the unknown that awaits them. And the darkness that seems to follow wherever they go. In this striking portrait of lives torn apart, the plight of migrants at the U.S. southern border is brought to light through poignant, vivid storytelling. An epic journey of danger, resilience, heartache, and hope.