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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!!!

However Long the Night by Aimee Molloy

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However Long the Night by Aimee Molloy

I was quite shocked by how much I enjoyed this book. I usually don’t go for biography or book about Africa, but this one called to me and I read it. I think it is a book everyone should read at least once in their life.

The story follows the life of Molly Melching and how she brought the knowledge of human rights to numerous villages throughout rural Senegal. Molly is originally from the U.S. and moved to Africa in her early twenties. She stayed because of how welcome and at home she felt, something she had never found anywhere else. After studying and working as a translator, she became obsessed with how to get education into the rural areas of Senegal where it was gravely needed to help maintain and encourage the improvement projects that were being put in place by NGOs (Non-Governmental Organization). She had several incarnations of organizations before founding Tostan – primarily setting up a local community center through the local Peace Corps then working with her (then) husband to establish a local education program for the village of Saam Njaay. Between these two organizations, she developed a teaching model that met the needs and cultural traditions of the rural community, allowing them access to basic information such as reading, writing, and hygiene.

When she finally broke out on her own and developed Tostan, she used what she had learned to develop an educational program that brought knowledge to the participants. Not only did the program teach reading and writing, but they were taught in connections with core ideas set up in modules – hygiene, basic health, leadership skills, and project development. After gaining success, she was prompted by receipt of funding to include a module on human rights and women’s health, including the dangers of FGC (female genital cutting) which was a widespread practice in Senegal. This last module was developed and presented with great care to be non-judgement and non-confrontational, simply presenting information that described the rights of women as outlined by the United Nations and gave the women information on their bodies they greatly wanted to know.

This module had an unexpected result. As the women grew in their belief in their rights and themselves, the communities started to change as women demanded their rights. The most stunning result was the decision by different villages to discontinue FGC, which caused anger and dismay with other villages. This led to the discovery of social norm connectivity and how members of a group will decide together.

As an educator and a woman, I found this book highly informative. Not only did I get an overview of life in Senegal, but I learned more about my rights as a woman and innovative educational practices I hope to someday use in my classroom. I thought it did a wonderful job of not only discussing Molly’s life, but also the different things she and her assistants learned over the years and the amazing stories shared by the brave women and men in Senegal who are attempting to bring an end to FGC in the country, and to spread the knowledge across borders.

I highly recommend this book to everyone, but especially women and educators. It also gives you a glimpse into a life we cannot imagine in the United States and is a great way to learn about a mindset completely foreign to us. It definitely ranks on my “needs to be read” list for someone who will take the time to appreciate what they can learn from it.

My rating:

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Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

First let me say, and you may have guessed if you read my reviews regularly, I listened to this book on audiotape. A bonus was it was one of my favorite voice actors, Devina Porter, that did the narration. Her skills and talent shone brightly in this book and I was very glad to have her as the narrator. It took me over a month to get through, and I have a long commute. However, I feel that it was well worth my time.

Secondly, I was blown away by this book. I had always heard that Tolstoy was dry, long-winded, and boring, however, I found the book very interesting, detailed, and in the same spirit (not topics or subjects of course) as Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. I have placed it on my 100 Books to Read Before You Die list with Jane Eyre. I find it somewhat more informative than the writings by the women because it gives a full snapshot of what life was like in turn-of-the-century Russia.

The book essentially follows two couples – Anna and Vronsky,  Levin and Kitty. There are numerous other important characters, but mostly it revolves around how everyone interacts with these four people. Anna is married to Alexei Karenin, but falls in love with Vronsky, causing numerous issues with her marriage. Levin is a country gentleman who has loved Kitty for years, but has never been brave enough to offer his hand. When he attempts to Vronsky stands in his way and he feels defeated. Both couples relationships grow and radiate, twist and turn, hum with love, and snag and break in different times, for different reasons, and in different ways. It is quite an emotional book for the period.

What I found extremely fascinating was the descriptions, explanations, and portrayal of turn of the century Russian society a short time after the Revolution. I had known nothing about Russia, its history or its people. I learned a lot just reading the book. Through the characters you learned about how the whole populace functioned, from the princes to the commoners, and their attitudes toward each other. Attitudes and ideas about education, women’s rights, politics, etc. were also discussed, these three topics being the most primary, along with agriculture and labor. The author gave an honest and effective portrayal of how society was both attempting and not attempting to change at the same time.

Furthermore, the book gave an exemplary account on the subtle influences of relationship. It is a great study on how insecurity, depression, stress, and social isolation effects people. Additionally, trust and pride are also shown in the different relationships. The commonplace attitude of mistresses and women’s places help to demonstrate the role of marriages and children. It was interesting to see how society and individuals were so influenced and could influence the happiness of others.

I would recommend this book to any serious reader. It is very long and you have to be determined to finish it, but it is well worth it. I would suggest audiobook as well, as I find it very enjoyable and helps to ease the dryness of some of the passages. All in all, it is a fantastic literary work.

My rating:

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