¡Felicidades! to the 2018 Pura Belpré Award Winners and Honor Books

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Congratulations to the authors and illustrators who were honored at the American Library Association’s Midwinter conference!

The newest Pura Belpré Awards went to Ruth Behar for Lucky Broken Girl and Juana Martinez-Neal for her illustrations in La Princesa and the Pea.

Click on the links below to get more information on the creators and their work!

Spotlight on Latina Illustrators (including Juana Martinez-Neal)

The Road to Publishing: Juana Martinez-Neal on Landing an Agent

In the Studio with John Parra

Spotlight on Middle Grade Authors: Pablo Cartaya

Spotlight on Middle Grade Authors: Celia C. Pérez

Pura Belpré Award (Author) honoring Latino authors whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience. Click on the cover images to see our review of the title or to get more information.

Winner:

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Honor books:

     

 

Pura Belpré Award (Illustrator) honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience. Click on the cover images to see our review of the title or to get more information.

Winner:

Honor Books:

     

¡Felicidades! to the 2017 ALA Youth Media Award Winners and Honor Books

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Congratulations to the authors and illustrators who were honored at the American Library Association’s Midwinter conference! The Caldecott Medal and Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Award went to Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, written and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe. It’s a heartfelt and vibrant picture book biography about the childhood and life of Puerto Rican-Haitian American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The newest Pura Belpré Awards went to Juana Medina for her book Juana and Lucas and Raúl the Third for his illustrations in Lowriders: to the Center of the Earth.

Click here for an inside look at Juana Medina’s studio.

And click here for more information about Juana, the author-illustrator.

But, wait…there’s more….

Click here for a review of the first Lowriders book.

And click here for a super-cool audio interview of Raúl by author-illustrator Robert Trujillo.

Here are the winners and honor books by/for/about Latinxs. Click on the covers for more information:

The Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children and the Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award went to:

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Pura Belpré Award (Author) honoring Latino authors whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience:

Winner:

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Honor book:

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Pura Belpré Award (Illustrator) honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.

Winner:

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Honor Books:

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Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in children’s video

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Stonewall Award Honor Books included:

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Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences. The list included:

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Author David Bowles on his Garza Twins Series and the Pura Belpré Honor

 

By David Bowles

When my three kids were younger, we had a tradition of reading YA fantasy and sci-fi series together. Harry Potter was a big deal for many years, followed by His Dark Materials, Percy Jackson, Hunger Games, and so on. I even read the Twilight series with my oldest daughter, if you can believe it.

This shared reading was fantastic. We shed tears, laughed aloud, and had many deep conversations. One thing we kept coming back to—as Mexican-American fans of speculative fiction—was the lack of people of color in most of the books we read (beyond secondary, less important roles). Typically these series boasted a team of what amounted to Anglo young people facing off against European or Western legendary beings, gods, or dilemmas.

“Wouldn’t it be nice,” we often mused, “to open one of these books and find a Chicana facing off against Aztec deities or Mexican monsters?”

Venting this frustration to writer friends of mine, I was answered by an idea that should have been obvious from the beginning:

“You’re a writer, David. This matters to you. Why not develop such a series yourself?”

It was a no-brainer, clearly. Tan obvio. The trick now was to hit on the right story. I was hasta el cuello en research into Aztec and Maya literature at the time, and it occurred to me that a journey through the nine levels of Mictlan/Xibalba (the Mesoamerican Underworld) would make for a great hero quest. I cast about for the right characters for a while, until I started paying close attention to the fantastic friendship between my youngest son and middle daughter. With a few tweaks to age and interests, they became templates for the Garza twins.

But who were the Garza twins? What was special about them? Why would they travel through the Underworld? The answers became clear to me one morning when I stepped outside to find a dead jackrabbit in my backyard. An image suddenly overlaid the scene in my head: my daughter, asleep in the grass, the jackrabbit between her hands. I knew in that instant that the twins were naguales, shapeshifters, and the rest fell into place.

Once the book was written, it was rejected by many agents and publishers before finding a nice home with the Australian press IFWG Publishing, who treated the project with a good deal of love, even agreeing to allow one of my very talented daughters to design the cover. Reviewers and young readers alike responded positively to The Smoking Mirror, and I was delighted to have added to the body of diverse YA literature.

When the request came for us to submit copies to the Pura Belpré Award, I was floored, truly overwhelmed at the idea that these incredible advocates for Latino books would be reading my novel. Then, months later, I got the call from the committee—they’d selected The Smoking Mirror as one of two Pura Belpré Author Honor Books.

Very seldom am I at a loss for words—ni en inglés ni en español—but I found it hard to catch my breath and thank them profusely. It’s a humbling yet fulfilling sensation, seeing a project you believe so strongly in get this level of recognition, and I am eternally indebted to all the people who believed in Garza Twins at every stage of its development.

28484604Of course, this is only the beginning for me and the twins. Book two, A Kingdom Beneath the Waves, will be out in late April. This time, Johnny and Carol Garza find themselves plunging deeply into the Pacific Ocean to stop a renegade prince of the merfolk and his allies—among them the water elementals the Aztecs called tlaloqueh—from recovering the Shadow Stone, a device that can flood the planet.

Garza Twins will last for five volumes, and Kingdom ratchets up the tension and stakes, introducing cool new characters and laying the foundation for future conflicts. As with The Smoking Mirror, the normal life of the Garza family is explored; the twins grapple with problems facing many modern Latino teens, and the courage and compassion with which they resolve those issues bleed into their supernatural encounters as well. But, as with me in my writing endeavors, they can’t triumph alone. Family and friends are vital to the success of their mission.

You see, I think the biggest myth in our culture, and perhaps the most dangerous, is that of the lone hero. Each of us is part of a greater community, a web of support and lore without which we could not survive. If there is a message at the heart of Garza Twins, I think that’s it.

Unidos podemos. Together, we can.

 

me 6-3-14A product of an ethnically diverse family with Latino roots, David Bowles has lived most of his life in the Río Grande Valley of south Texas. Recipient of awards from the American Library Association, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the Texas Associated Press, he has written several books, most notably the Pura Belpré Honoree The Smoking Mirror. His work has also been published in venues such as BorderSenses, Strange Horizons, Apex Magazine, Stupefying Stories, Asymptote, Translation Review, Huizache, Metamorphoses and Rattle.

Winning the Newbery When Diversity Matters: Guest Post by Pat Enciso

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Last Stop on Market Street is a stunning contribution to the legacy and future of book art and storytelling for children; no wonder, then, that it has won a Newbery Award, Caldecott Honor, and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. With distinctive, poetic text by Matt de la Peña and evocative illustrations by Christian Robinson, Last Stop on Market Street reveals the creative potential of a powerful cross-cultural author-illustrator partnership. In words and pictures, it embraces substantive diversity in children’s literature, diversity that not only helps us see ourselves and one another, but that also asks that we make our world anew.

Here’s a synopsis, in case you haven’t had the good fortune to get your hands on the book. On a Sunday after church, CJ and his Nana begin their weekly journey across town on a public bus, eventually disembarking at the last stop on Market Street, where they walk down a broken-down street with broken-down buildings until they reach their destination: a soup kitchen. LASTSTOP_arrayAlong the way, they encounter an array of people, including the bus driver, a blind man, a woman holding a jar of butterflies, teens plugged in to their iPods, and a guitar player.

Sitting inside the bus, watching as others travel by car, bicycle, and skateboard, CJ questions the differences he notices between his own life and the lives of others. As she answers him, Nana demonstrates thoughtfulness and regard for variation in the natural world and in our flawed but beautiful human communities.

Last Stop on Market Street follows a familiar storyline about a child’s discoveries as he ventures beyond home. Traditionally, this storyline features adventures in inviting spaces where wonder and delight await young protagonists, riches at the ready. In Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson’s story, though, CJ and Nana do not journey through a readymade world; they make the world as they go along. For CJ, part of that making is reckoning with his own desire for belonging in a world marked by disparities.

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Whereas many reviewers see Nana’s wisdom as what determines the book’s value, I want to focus on CJ’s questions. Specifically, I want to consider how these questions make Last Stop on Market Street deserving of the year’s most prestigious awards as well as how they might be reoriented for adults reviewers to enable more generative thinking about book evaluations when diversity matters.

Across the book, CJ asks his grandmother six questions:

  • “How come we gotta wait for the bus in all this wet?”
  • “Nana, how come we don’t got a car?”
  • “How come we always gotta go here after church?”
  • “How come that man can’t see?”
  • Implicitly asking for an iPod: “Sure wish I had one of those.”
  • “How come it’s always so dirty over here?”

On the face of it, CJ is asking for what kids (and adults) often desire: to be unconstrained and worry-free, to have easy access to pleasure and fun. Stories can create this kind of world for children; and many adults think this is what stories for young readers should do. Instead, Last Stop on Market Street honors the realities that exist beyond the readymade worlds of comfort and privilege. CJ doesn’t want to imagine himself far away from what he sees, but he does want to know why the world is as it is and where he belongs in it. Gaps in resources and opportunities are as present in CJ’s reality as the lowering and lifting of the bus making its stops. He is right to ask questions, and his Nana never undermines the legitimacy of his questions. Instead, she answers them by modeling attentiveness, wonder, and reverence for the lovely particularity of their human encounters on a rainy Sunday.

LASTSTOP_touch&encounter_detailRobinson’s illustrations show a distinctive entry point, midpoint and eventual endpoint for each of CJ and his Nana’s interactions. Eyes meet, hands touch, bodies tilt forward, lean over, straighten up, respond. The rhythm of people making room for one another and attending to one another animates every scene. Nana creates opportunities for CJ to notice, to attend thoughtfully to his world. Whereas CJ’s questions highlight important material differences between people, Nana directs his attention to the unique, often momentary, connections that are possible when we engage with others. Without undermining the reality of material disparities, these connections show that all people have the potential to draw beauty from ordinary experience. And they show that beauty is in the making, in the shared work of creating these connections, as when Nana, CJ, and the blind man all close their eyes to listen to the guitar player’s song.

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Throughout the book, with his Nana’s guidance, CJ becomes immersed in making the world around him through actual and metaphorical interactions.

Usually, when considering how diversity is represented in children’s literature, reviewers ask some variation of the following two questions: How accurate are representations of language, culture, setting, and relationships? Are characters fully realized and shown to have agency? These questions highlight character strengths and authorial insight, but they miss the significant ways an author places characters in an unequal world, which is where all children live.

Last Stop on Market Street offers us some clues about the new questions we could be asking. In an effort to encourage reviewers to look beyond the standard concerns when reading and evaluating diverse representations in children’s literature, I have translated CJ’s questions into the following “adult” questions:

  • How is difference constructed, and what does it mean for a character’s belonging in an unequal world?
  • How is material wealth acknowledged or taken for granted in a story, especially at aLASTSTOP_RealReaders time of extreme poverty for fully a third of the children living in the U.S.?
  • How are characters’ lives and perspectives interrelated and interdependent? How are these interconnections shown in text and image?
  • How are perceptions of difference transformed, and by whom, and with what implications for future relations?
  • How are disparities in the funding and support of community infrastructures acknowledged? Are inequities seen to have a material effect on children’s opportunities to explore and become their fullest selves?

These questions beckon from beneath CJ’s apparently simple queries. Like Nana, Last Stop on Market Street underscores their relevance with equal parts gentleness and insistence. We should pay attention to the questions, let them take root in us. We should also pay attention to the worldmaking that unfolds in their wake, both in the book, as CJ and Nana partner in treasuring the particularity of each encounter, and in the future we are beginning to envision for children’s literature.

 Last Stop on Market Street is an award-winning book not only because the language is lyrical and the illustrations are alive with rhythm and warmth, but also because it is a groundbreaking story. It is a story where it matters that CJ is a Black child spending Sunday with his grandmother. It is a story where it matters still more that CJ and his Nana ask each other hard questions and make space for complex answers. It is a story where it matters that we, too, might learn to make our world as we go along.

Thank you, Matt, Christian, and the Newbery Committee for taking up the imaginative work of making the world of children’s literature what it can be. As for the rest of us who care about children and the worlds they grow up in, let’s heed Nana’s invitation at the end of Last Stop on Market Street: “Now, come on.” There are more worlds to make, more encounters to be had as we discover all the ways that diversity is fundamental to human experience.

So, friends? Come on. Our bus is here.

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Version 2Patricia Enciso’s work centers on honoring and cultivating readers’ diverse experiences with literature. She is a professor of Literature for Children and Young Adults in the Department of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University, the president of the Literacy Research Association, and a member of the Tomás Rivera Book Award national committee. Among many other projects, she edited the  Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature and is currently working with Denise Dávila on a book called  Transformative Teaching with Diverse Books for Children.

¡Felicidades! to the ALA Youth Media Award Winners and Honor Books

WOW! What a great year for Latin@-themed books and books written/illustrated by Latin@s! I’m sure many of us reacted this way as the results of the ALA Youth Media Awards came in Monday. Matt de la Peña and Christopher Robinson’s Last Stop on Market Street took home the Newbery Medal and was named an Honor book for the Caldecott and Coretta Scott King awards.

AND OUR OWN ASHLEY HOPE PÉREZ’S OUT OF DARKNESS WAS NAMED A PRINTZ HONOR BOOK!!!!! YES, THIS IS IN ALL CAPS AND HAS LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS BECAUSE WE ARE SOOOOOO EXCITED FOR HER!!!!!!!! YAY, ASHLEY!!!!

A HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to all of the winners and honor books.

Here are the winners and honor books by/for/about Latin@s. Click on the covers for more information:

John Newbery Medal for most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

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Newbery Honor Books:

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Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults. The Honor Books included:

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Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children. The Caldecott Honor Books included:

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Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Honor Books included:

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Pura Belpré Award (Illustrator) honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.

Winner:

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Honor Books:

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Pura Belpré Award (Author) honoring Latino authors whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience:

Winner:

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Honor books:

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Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children.

Winner:

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Finalist for the William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens:

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Finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults:

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Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States. The Odyssey Honor Recording was:

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Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences. The list included:

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Take Two!: SLJ’s Shelley Diaz Predicts 2016 Pura Belpré Award Winners

 

By Shelley M. Diaz 

While I didn’t correctly predict the top winners in last year’s Pura Belpré Awards, many of the titles mentioned received recognition at the American Library Association’s 2015 Youth Media Awards. I wonder how close I will get this year! We’ll see on January 11 as the children’s literary world waits with baited breath for the announcements of the recipients of the top kid lit awards presented by librarians in the United States.

Results of Mock Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, Coretta Scott King, and Geisel lists have been tallied on the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) blog. An Oregon chapter of REFORMA (National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking) even posted their own Mock Pura Belpré. And the “Latinas 4 Latino Lit” blog posted their top picks in late November.

Before I get to my predictions, let’s recap the criteria for the Pura Belpré Medals:

First, here’s a short overview of the criteria that librarians on the committee (members of REFORMA and ALSC) will consider when naming the recipients of the 2015 awards (found in the Pura Belpré Award Manual).

  1. Two medals shall be awarded annually at the Annual Conference of the American Library Association, one to a Latino author of an outstanding children’s book and one to a Latino illustrator for creating an outstanding children’s picture book. Each of these must be an original work that portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience.
  2. The award-winning books must be published in the United States or Puerto Rico during the preceding year.
  3. Recipients of the Pura Belpré medal must be residents or citizens of the United States or Puerto Rico.
  4. Fiction and nonfiction books for children published in Spanish, English, or bilingual formats are eligible.

More specifics:

  1. A “children’s book” shall be a book for which children are a potential audience. The book must display respect for children’s understandings, abilities, and appreciations. Children are defined as persons of ages up to and including fourteen, and books for this entire age range are to be considered.
  2. Particular attention will be paid to cultural authenticity.
  3. “Resident” specifies that author has established and maintained residence in the United States, or Puerto Rico, as distinct from being a casual or occasional visitor.

So without further ado, here are my picks for this year’s winners. If you click on the cover images or the title links, you will be taken to IndieBound for more information:

 

Pura Belpré 2016 Author Award

23309551Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle. illus. by Edel Rodriguez. S. & S./Atheneum.

Reasons why I think it will win: Already a YALSA Nonfiction Finalist, an SLJ Top Latino Book, and the recipient of multiple starred reviews, the latest work by the first Latina to receive a Newbery Honor is truly a tour de force. A memoir in verse detailing her struggles as young person caught between two worlds—Cuba and the U.S.—this title is as compelling and well-written as Engle’s previous Pura Belpré recognized titles. Plus, the Oregon Mock Pura chose this as its winner—and I’m in full agreement.

Honors:

22295304Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks

Probably one of the most celebrated YA titles this year, this urban fantasy with an unapologetic but totally real Afro-Latina is a joy to read and heeds the call for diversity within the sci-fi/fantasy genres. Plus, the celebration of Latino culture is strong in this title, offering an often ignored aspect of our culture—anti-Blackness.

SLJ Q&A: Urban Fantasy Counter-Narrative: Daniel José Older on “Shadowshaper”

 

24612544Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano. Scholastic.

Manzano is no stranger to the Pura Belpré Awards. Her Revolution of Evelyn Serrano took an Honor in 2013. And it’s no secret how much I enjoyed this memoir about her path to Sesame Street, where she played the iconic “Maria.” The lyrical text evokes both the childhood trauma and resilience that made her the role model and award-winning writer and actress she is today. Just try to keep a dry eye. Manzano’s holiday-themed picture book Miracle on 133rd Street could also take a medal this year. The Oregon Mock certainly thinks so.

SLJ Video: Daniel José Older Talks to Sonia Manzano, Sesame Street’s ‘Maria,’ About Her Memoir

 

24795948Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh. illus. by author. Abrams.

I don’t think it’s possible to have a year in which Tonatiuh doesn’t win a Pura recognition. It’s written in the bylaws, I think. (Just kidding. Sort of.)

 

 

Other possible contenders:

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan. Scholastic. Though only one section of past Author Medalist’s ambitious novel directly celebrates Latino culture, this book has lots of fans in the library world. It might get a nod on January 11.

Mango, Abuela and Me. Candlewick by past Author winner Meg Medina. There’s a parrot and an adorable abuela bridging cultural and linguistic divides. Sounds like a recipe for a winner to me.

Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle. illus. by Rafael López. HMH. Wouldn’t it be amazing if Engle takes both the Award and an Honor? This picture book inspired by an Afro-Chinese-Cuban female musician who broke gender barriers is a true gem.

Salsa: Un Poema Para Cocinar/A Cooking Poem. by Jorge Argueta. Illus. by Duncan Tonatiuh. Groundwood. This bilingual text, part of the “Cooking Poem” series is as delectable as the previous entries. Definitely a contender!

Since the committees tend to stay away from upper-end YA, I don’t know if Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not (SohoTeen) or Ashley Hope Pérez’s Out of Darkness (Lerner) will be recognized, but wouldn’t that be nice?

 

 

Pura Belpré 2016 Illustrator Award

22749711Winner: Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle. illus. by Rafael López. HMH.

Reasons why I think it will win: Have you seen this book? It just screams “Caress Me!” The illustrations are majestic and vibrant and López isn’t a stranger to the Pura Belpré either. Once again, no surprise on how much I love it here. But, I’m not the only one! Already on several Best lists, it’s also been garnering some possible Caldecott buzz. The art elevates the already excellent text by incorporating the protagonists’ multicultural background, showcasing the diversity within the Latino people.

 

Honors:

 

24795948Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh. illus. by author. Abrams. A New York Times Best Illustrated book of 2015, this informational book about the artist whose calaveras have become synonymous with Día de los muertos is as gorgeous as it is informative. Tonatiuh doesn’t disappoint—and I’m sure he won’t be disappointed on January 11.

 

 

23282198The Great and Mighty Nikko by Xavier Garza, Cinco Puntos. While Garza was honored in 2012 for narrative, he might just garner some recognition this time around for his fabulous art in this concept book. Riffing off a similar Lucha Libre theme as his past books, this counting tale is just so eye-catching that it might surprise us.

 

Other contenders:

Little Chanclas by José Lozano. illus. by author. Cinco Puntos. The stylized illustrations reminiscent of street art and the infectious and expressive heroine and her penchant for sandals just might charm the committee enough to win some praise.

Mango, Abuela and Me by Meg Medina. Illus. by Angela Dominguez. Candlewick. Dominguez received a nod for her irresistible art in 2014 Maria Had a Little Llama / María Tenía una Llamita and she’s certainly been busy this year with her contribution to the “Lola Levine” chapter books and her own Knight Together. This could certainly be her year!

 

So, those are my picks! What say you? Did I leave anything out?