I regularly visit bookstores looking for the new published books; among those I also look for those written or illustrated by or about Latinos. Unfortunately, these are not usually easy come about; unless you know the specific titles to look for, these books might not even be found in the stores at all.
So, when the time for the ALA children's book awards comes, while I might have my favorites to win awards such as the Caldecott, I find it difficult to have an opinion of the strongest contenders to win the Pura Belpre Medal.
(From the Pura Belpre Award site: "The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually 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.")
However, not been able to find these books easily, doesn't stop me from becoming the fan of some I have managed to find during the year. And so, this time, these three are my favorites for the 2012 Pura Belpre illustrator Award Winner:
Waiting for Biblio Burro, written by Monica Brown, and illustrated by John Parra
John has an illustration style that feels nostalgic and earthy, that seems filled with memories and colors from the past. I have always loved everyone of his books. This one is not an exception. Here is John's site.
The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred, written by Samanthat R. Vamos, and illustrated by Rafael Lopez.
About a year ago, in one of my trips to Mexico, I was able to visit Rafael at his studio in San Miguel de Allende, and see some of his work in progress for a book about Tito Puente. Rafael never ceases to amaze me with his work.
Diego Rivera: His Wold and Ours, by Duncan Tonatiuh.
Ok, tell me, who can resist illustrations such as these ones?
When trying to find more titles written and /or illustrated by Latinos in the last year, I finally found a good list of books (both picture books and chapter books) at the REFORMA mock Pura Belpre.
Here, the titles:
• 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente - Santiago, Wilfred
• Alicia Alonso: Prima Ballerina - Bernier-Grand, Carmen T.
• Clara and the Curandera/Clara y la curandera - Brown, Monica
• The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred - Vamos, Samantha R.; illus by López, Rafael
• Dancing Home - Ada, Alma Flor & Gabriel M. Zubizarreta
• Diego Rivera: His World and Ours - Tonatiuh, Duncan
• Good-bye Havana! Hola New York - Colón, Edie
• Hey, 13! - Soto, Gary
• How Tía Lola Ended Up Starting Over - Alvarez, Julia
• How Tía Lola Saved the Summer - Alvarez, Julia
• Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck - Engle, Margarita
• I Kick the Ball/Pateo el balón - Zepeda, Gwendolyn
• If I Could Fly - Cofer, Judith Ortiz
• Illegal - Restrepo, Bettina
• The Land of Lost Things/El país de las cosas perdidas - Bursztyn, Dina
• Ladder to the Moon - Soetoro-Ng, Maya; illus by Morales, Yuyi
• Let's Dance!/¡A Bailar! - Cofer, Judith Ortiz
• Mamá and Me - Dorros, Arthur; illus by Gutierrez, Rudy
• A Mango in the Hand: A Story Told through Proverbs - Sacre, Antonio
• Marisol MacDonald Doesn't Match/Marisol McDonald no combina - Brown, Monica
• Maximilian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel - Garza, Xavier
• Milagro of the Spanish Bean Pot - Romero-Anderson, Emerita
• The Monster in the Mattress and Other Stories/El monstruo en el colchón y otros cuentos - De Anda, Diane
• Pepita and the Bully/Pepita y la peleonera - Lachtman, Ofelia Dumas
• SkateFate - Herrera, Juan Felipe
• Ten Little Puppies/Diez perritos - Ada, Alma Flor
• Tía Isa Wants a Car - Medina, Meg
• Under the Mesquite - McCall, Guadalupe Garcia
• Waiting for the Biblioburro - Brown, Monica
If you know of other books that could be included in this list, please, let me know. In the mean time, I'll be getting ready to watch the webcast anouncement of the ALA Media Awards this Monday Jan. 23, 2012 - 7:45 CT.