Pura Belpré Award

About the Pura Belpré Award
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.

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. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking (REFORMA), an ALA affiliate.

The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. As a children's librarian, storyteller, and author, she enriched the lives of Puerto Rican children in the U.S.A. through her pioneering work of preserving and disseminating Puerto Rican folklore.

It is now an annual award.  It was a biennial award from its inaugural year in 1996 through 2008. 

Administered by:

Association for Library Service to Children logo

Author Award

2017 Winner(s)

Juana & Lucas

written by Juana Medina, is the Pura Belpré Author Award winner. The book is illustrated by Juana Medina and published by Candlewick Press

“Juana & Lucas” presents with breezy humor the day-to-day reflections and experiences universal to childhood—school, family and friendships—through the eyes of the invincible Juana, growing up in Bogotá with her beloved dog, Lucas. This charmingly designed book for young readers portrays the advantages—and challenges—of learning a second language.

“Juana’s transformation from frustrated learner to enthusiastic speaker of ‘the English’ is portrayed with authenticity and plenty of appeal,” said Mitnick.


2017 Honor(s)

The Only Road
written by Alexandra Diaz and published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/A Paula Wiseman Book

Jaime and his cousin Ángela undertake the arduous journey to the North after a gang in Guatemala threatens their family. Diaz portrays with empathy the dangers, decisions and regrets faced by unaccompanied minors as they migrate in search of refuge.


Illustrator Award

2017 Winner(s)

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth

illustrated by Raúl Gonzalez, written by Cathy Camper and published by Chronicle Books LLC

“Lowriders to the Center of the Earth” follows Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack and Elirio Malaria, as they lowride into an epic quest to the realm of Mictlantecuhtli, Aztec god of the Underworld. The ballpoint pen art creates a fantastical borderlands odyssey, packed with subversively playful cultural references that affirm a vibrant Chicanx cultura.

“Raúl Gonzalez’s energetic ballpoint pen drawings portray a complex mash-up of cultures with humor and verve,” said Pura Belpré Award Committee Chair Eva Mitnick.


2017 Honor(s)

Esquivel!: Space-Age Sound Artist
illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh, written by Susan Wood and published by Charlesbridge

Duncan Tonatiuh creates a sense of sound and movement through energetic, textured collage illustrations that celebrate the life of innovative Mexican musician and composer Juan García Esquivel. Incorporating funky fonts and far-out fashions, Tonatiuh’s unique artistic style harkens back to indigenous codex art and lends cultural authenticity to this pulsating picture-book biography.


The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes
illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS

The legend of Mexico’s mythic volcanoes, Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, unfolds in this exquisite version of an ancient love story. The stylized codex-inspired art renews and reinterprets the tradition of Aztec flor y canto using a palette of earth tones and celestial blues to illuminate this artistic retelling.