Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Pura Belpré Ganadores

Photo by Alma Ramos- McDermott

Los ganadores from left to right Rafael López, Xavier Garza, Duncan Tonatiuh,  Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Margarita Engle - and Sara Palacios who was not able to attend.

This year was the sweet sixteen fiesta for the Pura Belpré Award. Como siempre, it was a wonderful ceremony with muchos aplausos, risas, happy lagrimas and mucho corazón. In this post, three of the ganadores want to say a few words about what this important award means to them.

Duncan Tonatiuh
 Photo by Alma Ramos- McDermott

On June 24 I received the Pura Belpré illustration award. It was a great, great honor. I'm in awe of all the love Diego Rivera: His World and Ours continues to receive.

To me, the Pura Belpré award means being part of a community of individuals who are passionate and dedicated to creating and sharing outstanding books. It means being part of a family of authors, illustrators, librarians, editors and publishers that care about the Latino experience and that want to generate knowledge, pride and understanding among Latinos and the rest of American society.

The ceremony was at the Disney Hotel in Anaheim, California during the ALA conference. It was an opportunity to catch up with friends and to make new ones. The celebración was colorful and festive. It included poetry, singing, dancing, laughing, crying, mariachi, lucha libre and inspiring and thoughtful words from recipients and committee members. Thank you Jamie Naidoo and Oralia Garza for your tremendous effort in making the celebración possible. 

 Photo by Duncan Tonatiuh

Receiving the Belpré award fills me with pride and enthusiasm. It inspires me to work hard and to let my voice and vision be heard. I want to continue being a part of the Belpré family. I look forward to seeing it evolve and grow. And I look forward to more epic fiestas!

Guadalupe Garcia McCall
 Photo courtesy of Guadalupe Garcia McCall

As writers, we are used to working in solitude. When we first start writing a new book, we sit at our desks alone. No one is there to help us, but we like it that way. We like reflecting, so we want to be alone with our thoughts. Sometimes we remember our high school English teachers saying something about theme or unity or parallelism and a small light bulb goes off in our heads, but mostly we hear only our own thoughts. Our fears, our dreams, our delusions, our hopes, our self-doubts, and our aspirations get muddled together, restraining yet freeing our creativity all at the same time. We revise and edit constantly, and we are so very thankful to editors and their long, thoughtful editorial letters. But even after publication, we still want to change things. We sit at home reading that finished book wishing we could rewrite a certain scene before even one more person reads it. Then something wonderful happens; people read it and like it. Sometimes they even honor it with a starred review or, most surprisingly, an award.

Photo by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

The experience of receiving the Pura Belpre Author Award for Under the Mesquite has been wonderfully unexpected and surreal. It has been unexpected, because, to be honest, I just wanted to get my little book of poems about my family published. It has been surreal because I am still in awe of how far my little poems have traveled, how they have opened their wings and taken flight. Winning the Pura Belpre Author Award has validated more than my writing. This award is a celebration of the love and dedication my mother, Tomasa Ruiz de Garcia, put into raising me and my brothers and sisters. It commemorates her memory in a way that is beyond anything I could ever hope do on my own. I will be forever grateful to ALSC, Reforma, and especially the Pura Belpre committee members who saw my mother's spirit, her love, thriving within the pages of Under the Mesquite and chose to honor it with such a gift. Sinceramente, I am humbled by this award, and I feel very blessed. 

Xavier Garza
Photo by Celia C. Perez

To receive the Pura Belpre Honor book award for Maximilian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel has been an incredible experience for me. “A Pura Belpre Honor book award,” I kept telling myself after I got the call informing me of the honor being bestowed on Maximilian. It was beyond belief for me! I can’t even skillfully put into the words what it means to me personally to receive such a prestigious award, especially for portraying something that I hold as dear to my heart as lucha libre. I am a big believer in celebrating Latino culture and heritage. It is what makes us unique from the music that we dance to, to the food that we eat. These are all aspects that serve to give us our identity as a people. The Pura Belpre celebrates all these things, and does even more. It promotes and celebrates literacy. So to receive an award that celebrates our very culture tugs at my heart strings. The fact that is aimed at books geared towards young children makes even more special. 

Photo by Celia C. Perez

I will never forget the look in my son’s eyes as he cheered and clapped for me as I received my Pura Belpre honor book plaque at the ceremony. It almost made me cry. I can’t say thank you enough to the Pura Belpre award committee, to my publisher Cinco Puntos Press and to my family and friends for supporting me in reaching this great honor. 


The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually 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), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate.

1 comment:

Meg Medina said...

¡Que placer! Some of my happiest moments this year were spent enjoying their work! Congratulations!