It’s been a huge and unexpected day for me, to say the least.
But 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. I am so very proud of my friend, Matt de la Peña, for his gorgeous book, Last Stop on Market Street. (The full list of ALA winners is here.)
If you were watching the ALA awards this morning, you know that Mango, Abuela, and Me was given the 2016 Pura Belpré honor book award for literature, as well as receiving an honor for the illustrations. Congratulations, Angela! (Full list of Pura Belpré winners here.)
This award celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Since its inception, the Pura Belpré award has sought to shine a light on the Latino experience in children’s literature. In so many ways, this has become my life’s work. To have this medal on my book – this year in particular – is such an affirmation.
A huge congratulations to Margarita Engle and Rafael Lopez winners of the Pura Belpré medal for literature and illustration, respectively. I feel so humbled to have my work included alongside yours. Congratulations to all the winners. Wow.
I can’t thank the committee members enough for believing in my work. (They are Ana-Elba Pavon, Chair; Sylvia Cecilia M. Aguinaga; Patricia Rua-Bashir; Maria F. Estrella; Maria C. Mena; Teresa Mlawer; Abigail Yvonne Morales; and Oralia Garza de Cortes, REFORMA, Cultural Competency.) I know it couldn’t have been easy to volunteer your time so generously, especially in a year when so many wonderful books were up for consideration.
A big hug to Kate Fletcher, my editor, and to all my friends at Candlewick who make me feel like a winner every single day. (Special kudos to designer Heather McGee and Ann Stott who art directed along with Chris Paul.) Much appreciation, too, goes to my agent, Jen Rofé, for her friendship and tireless advocacy on my behalf.
But mostly, I’m grateful to everyone who has read and shared Mango, Abuela and Me. Thank you for using this book to help children feel proud of who they are and to help us all celebrate the many ways to speak the language of love and respect.
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A few seconds after they announced Matt’s win, I had tears streaming down my cheeks. I love his books, and, what he did for Latin@ kids in Tucson when the Mexican American Studies program was shut down… priceless.
Reading your post here brings those tears right back. It is a very significant year for Latin@ readers, writers, thinkers, activists… and for all of us who love children’s books that reflect the world, as it was and as it is, with integrity.
Thank you so much, Debbie. I was so excited to see such a wide and exciting range of authors and books. Thanks for sharing the joy of the day!
big congrats, Meg! Happy day!
Congratulations!!! A landmark day!!
So proud of you and all the winners. It is so encourging that diversity is being recognized.
Congratulations! Well deserved by all the winners. I love that diversity is finally being embraced by the publishing world.
Congratulations from all your friends at Tuckahoe Library… such a well- deserved honor for a beautiful book.
Sue Van Tassel
Children’s Services Supervisor
Tuckahoe Area Library
1901 Starling Drive
Henrico, VA 23229
No surprise, Meg! I’m so happy for you and your readers. I know you all will continue to help each other grow.