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Congratulations to the 2016 ALA Award Winners!

Article originally written by Alice at Vamos a Leer: Congratulations to the 2016 ALA Award Winners!

We are thrilled to share the news that this year’s American Library Association (ALA) awards recognized several amazing Latin@ authorsamong outstanding children’s and young adult books. These authors have played an important part in the diversification of children’s and young adult literature and we are excited to see that their contributions have been acknowledged with such prestigious awards. Never before has the ALA awards recognized such breadth and depth of Latin@ and Latin American culture in a given year!

As author Meg Medina writes, “It has been a HUGE day for Latino authors and illustrators all the way around.  A ceiling-shattering day.  A day that represents such an astounding shift in respect and perception that it brings tears to my eyes as I am typing this. For the first time, we have Latino winners and honor books in so many of the major awards – the Feldman, the Seilbert, the Printz, the Caldecott, the Odyssey, non-fiction awards and the very highest one, the Newbery.”

This year’s 2016 winner of the John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature is Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson, and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons. According to Latino USA, “For the first time in 94 years, a Latino author has won the John Newbery Medal for literature, considered one of the most important honors for American children’s books.” According to School Library Journal, de la Peña has said of his work, “‘Part of what I’ve been trying to do with my books is just focus on moments of grace and beauty in working class neighborhoods,’ he said. ‘This book maybe is about a kid learning to see himself as beautiful—his world as beautiful.’Last Stop on Market Street was also named an Honor Book for theRandolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children and was additionally deemed an Honor Book for the Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award.

Echo, an acclaimed young adult novel written by the talented author Pam Muñoz Ryan and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., was also named as a finalist for the John Newberry Medal.

Other Latino/a winners, finalists, and honorees include: Out of Darkness, written by Ashley Hope Pérezand published by Carolrhoda Lab, was named as an Honor Book for the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults; Written and Drawn by Henrietta, published by TOON Books, and written, illustrated, and translated from the Spanish by Liniers from Argentina, was named as an Honor Book for the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children’s book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States; and Echo, produced by Scholastic Audio/Paul R. Gagne, written by Pam Muñoz Ryan and narrated by Mark Bramhall, David de Vries, MacLeod Andrews and Rebecca Soler, selected as an Honor Recording for the Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States.

Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League by Dan-el Padilla Peralta, published by Penguin Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC won an Alex Award for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences.

This year’s recipient of the Pura Belpré (Author) Award honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience was Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir, written by Margarita Engle and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir was also a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Two Belpré Author Honor Books were named: The Smoking Mirror, written by David Bowles and published by IFWG Publishing, Inc.; and Mango, Abuela, and Me, written by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez, and published by Candlewick Press.

This year’s recipient of the Pura Belpre (Illustrator) Award is Drum Dream Girl, illustrated by Rafael López, written by Margarita Engle and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Three Belpré Illustrator Honor Books for illustration were selected: My Tata’s Remedies/Los remedios de mi tata, illustrated byAntonio Castro L., written by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford and published by Cinco Puntos Press; Mango, Abuela, and Me, illustrated by Angela Dominguez, written by Meg Medina and published by Candlewick Press; and Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras, illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Finally, Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by writer/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh was again recognized when it won the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children.

Congratulations to all the winners, finalists and honorees! We are so delighted to join in the chorus of acclaim and recognition that you deeply deserve!!!

Seriously Mum, Where’s that Donkey? by Alan Parks

Seriously Mum, Where’s that Donkey? by Alan Parks

 

I don’t know why, but I did not like this book as much as the first book of his. Mostly, it was a telling of the events of the next few years of the Parks living in Spain and raising their alpacas. You actually don’t hear a whole lot about the alpacas, they are only the focus of about two or three chapters in the book. However, life is not dull at the Olive Mill. Spanish bingo, camera crews, travelers, stray dogs, and numerous animals fill the pages here. The tightness of their finances is a prevalent theme throughout, describing their various endeavors to earn more money. Lorna goes back to teaching dance, they rent out rooms to travelers, and think of different ways to save money.

You do meet a lot of new characters. I liked learning about the different people because you got to see a variety of cultural differences and personality types. Meeting neighbors, a new alpaca breeder, and various random encounters lead to new friendships and events. They try out Spanish lessons (they don’t go well) and learn where to take the stray dogs that turn up all the time. Lorna gains a following of local women as the local Zumba instructor. They join with other alpaca breeders to show animals in the local farm shows. They attend more of the local festivals than they have done in previous years and provide descriptions.

I’m not entirely sure why, but this book just had more of a serious feel to it. The events and things that took place didn’t get the humorous light they did in the first book. Also, there were more sad events and hard times than in the first book. His writing style was the same and I liked the candid way he describes everything, however, I don’t think I will be reading this book again though.

My rating:

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Seriously Mum, What’s an Alpaca? by Alan Parks

Seriously Mum, What’s an Alpaca? by Alan Parks

 

I found this book for free through the Kindle store one day and it sounded amusing. I am really glad I picked it up. It is a refreshing story of a couple in their mid-years, maybe 40s or 50s, I’m not really sure, giving up their current life and relocating somewhere else to pursue a dream.

Alan and Lorna Park lived in England, but when Lorna began to experience health issues and could not continue work as a dance teacher, Alan suggested they pack up, move to Spain, and raise alpacas. They had fallen in love with the alpacas at the local park and felt they would be happy living in the country raising and breeding the animals, and there was a good bit of money to be had in the business as well. They went for it – and here is there story. It is full of hilarious humor and terrible heartache as you listen to Alan describe the first five years in their endeavor. The animals make guest appearances with little written notes at the end of a few chapters. You meet the interesting individuals they meet as they search for a home, learn about alpacas from another breeder, and meet their new neighbors. The antics and events are completely real and believable. It doesn’t feel forced or exaggerated. You feel for Lorna and Alan and the animals at their farm. You can sympathize and laugh at their predicaments, celebrations, and random happenings. I was very much amused by the animal count at the beginning of the different chapters. Through Alan you could feel their passion and love for all the animals and why they chose to do what they did. You learn a lot about country living, solar power, Spanish farmers, Spain, and particularly alpacas. The writing is smooth and it is an easy read. Since the couple is British, the references to distances, heights, and weights use the metric system, which is a little difficult for American readers. Some of their lingo is a little different too, but it’s fairly easy to understand.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. It is a great story about taking that leap of faith and pursuing a dream. It will definitely not go as planned. It will not be pretty or easy. There will be things you hadn’t even thought of which will make you rethink your decision. But at the end of the day, you stay. Why? Because you are finally happy.

My rating:

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Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros

Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros

It is not often that I give one cheese reviews, but I did not like this book. I have nothing against the author or anything like that, I simply did not like it. I think it was more that I was not able to understand it as it was meant to be. I couldn’t relate to the characters. I couldn’t get in to the mindset of the characters even though I was reading their thoughts. I couldn’t emphasize with the characters through similar experiences because I haven’t really experienced anything like the women in the book did. I also didn’t like the way it was written. I should preface that by saying I don’t get poetry because I felt the book was almost written prose and poetry – a lot of short sentences, sentence fragments, lists and descriptions abound throughout the book. Granted, this is how we often think, especially as women, but it is difficult to read. It is just not a style I like. Furthermore, the jump from story to story threw me off because there wasn’t really a common link in them. Some of the stories link together, but not all. They also don’t really flow in any particular manner.

All that being said, I would like to highlight what I thought was good about the book. There is a wide variety of themes – love, loss, magic, cheating, domestic abuse, beauty, the Mexican revolution, living on both sides of the border, religion, sex, and life. It is a female dominated book, so it will appeal primarily to female readers. Furthermore, it empowers women, doesn’t make them subjects to a fate out of their hands. It provides interesting windows into the lives of Mexican women and Mexican-American women. It is realistic and believable  (at least the stories that don’t involve magic). My favorite story was Little Miracles, Promises Kept.

I would recommend it to Mexican-American women particularly and any woman in general. It is an empowering book for women if you like it. Anyone studying the Mexican-American culture should read this as well. There are some interesting insights into that culture and the lives of the people in it. I can see the value of the book, I personally just didn’t like it.

My  rating:

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