Monday, July 7, 2008

More ALA Views: Pura Belpre Award Ceremony

First a definition/description:
"The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented 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." --from ALA website

And now my report.
At my signings, during the days before the award ceremony last week, I handed out a lot these printed invitations:
Then on Sunday afternoon I combed my hair (which I rarely do otherwise), "ironed my best tie, and pumped the tires of my bike," and the celebration began!

Here is…

...what I saw at the Pura Belpre:
-The California Pavilion in all colors with mexican sarapes adorning the tables and balloons crowning the stage.

-Gorgeous Irania all the way from North Carolina libraries, the Fresno gang, the San Francisco public library—present, Jackie Woodson and her baby, the Harcourt family, my agent Ms. Sheedy, Maria van Lieshout and Jim Averbeck representing my writer’s group, Lisa Brown, the South Carolina gang, my father and mother in law, my editor Reka Simonsen and the Holt group, Suzy from Nevada, Rene Colato and his stories, Visalia—present, the Pura Belpre committee, Fuse#8, my husband, my son and his guitar…I don’t have enough air to name everybody who was in the audience and all of those who helped put this fiesta together.

Here some images from

…what I heard at the Pura Belpre:
-Suni Paz opening the celebration with her guitar, and her songs old and sweet like the ones my mother always sings.

-My son’s guitar, strumming solemnly the love-declaration song to a ghost, la Llorona.

-A lullaby.

…what was said at the Pura Belpre:

-“When I started submitting my story (Los Gatos Black on Halloween) to publishers, editors would ask me, ‘but what does Spanish have to do with Halloween?’” –Marisa Montes, Pura Belpre text honor speech.

-“I would ask my mother, “mom, would you rather be right or be happy?”, and she would answer, “honey, it makes me very HAPPY to be RIGHT!”
“Una cucaracha!”—Carmen Agra Deedy, text honor speech.

-“If only there were words I didn’t have to say, Like Juan Francisco Manzano, and Cuba, I could do my speech with out crying.”—Margarita Engle, the night before her Pura Belpre speech.

-“De colores, de colores se visten los campos de la primavera…” Audience singing accompanied by the music of the children mariachi band.

...what I brought to give away:
-I had a chance to share my Gatos Black in Halloween bookmarks I designed. They looked like this on each side:

..what I learned at the Pura Belpre:
-Margarita Engle has heard la Llorona cry. After my speech and my mention of the ancient Mexican ghost of the weeping woman, she told me how in the mountains she had heard a female mountain lion's cry, warning against anybody coming closer to her babies, “And you don’t know,” Margarita said, “whether it is a mother lion or la Llorona—the cry so much like a woman weeping.”

-Hope, Esperanza, is a beautiful name for beautiful women. Gracias, Hope for taking care of me that day.

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