For immediate release | January 28, 2013

David Diaz, Benjamin Alire Sáenz win Pura Belpré Awards

SEATTLE — David Diaz, illustrator of “Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert,” and Benjamin Alire Sáenz, author of “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,”are the 2013 winners of the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award and Author Award, honoring Latino authors and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children’s books. The awards were announced today by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), during the ALA Midwinter Meeting held Jan. 25– 29, in Seattle.

The awards are administered by the ALSC and the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, REFORMA.

Capturing both historical fact and legend, “Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert” is the illustrated biography of the first African-heritage saint of the Américas. Diaz’s luminous mixed-media illustrations complement and expand the story. Diaz expertly uses color, perspective and contrast to portray Martín’s gentle spirit and miraculous abilities. The book was written by Gary D. Schmidt and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

“The committee was impressed with Diaz’s ability to capture and expand Schmidt’s text, while including references to traditional South American artisan crafts, word carvings and textiles,” said Pura Belpré Award Committee Chair Charmette S. Kuhn-Kendrick.

David Diaz is a prolific and award-winning illustrator and graphic designer with nearly 50 books to his name. He works in a variety of media, including ink, pencil, watercolor, acrylic, gouache and more. Diaz studied at the Fort Lauderdale Art Institute and currently resides in Southern California.

The Belpré Committee selected no Honor Books for illustration.

“Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” brings readers the tale of 15-year-old loner Aristotle Mendoza and his friendship with Dante Quintana. Sáenz exquisitely captures the story of two boys on the edge of manhood. By addressing issues of identity, friendship, family and love, Sáenz pushes beyond geography, sexuality and cultural identity to create a truly universal novel.The book was published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

“Sáenz demonstrates superb use of language and character development, while gently exploring important aspects of identity without straying into gender or cultural stereotypes,”said Kuhn-Kendrick.

Benjamin Alire Sáenz was born to a traditional Mexican-American Catholic family of Old Picacho, a village outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico. He is an award-winning novelist, poet, and author of books for children and adolescents.

The Belpré Committee selectedoneHonor Book for narration.

Sonia Manzano for “The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano,” published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

In her debut novel, Manzano beautifully recreates a world of turmoil in 1969 Spanish Harlem. Fourteen-year-old Evelyn Serrano is caught in a whirlwind of events led by the revolutionary Young Lords. Navigating the tensions between her activist abuela and conservative mother, Evelyn learns to value her own culture and history.

Better known as “Maria” on Sesame Street, Sonia Manzano has won multiple awards for television writing. Raised in the South Bronx, Sonia’s life-long commitment to children continues with this distinguished novel for adolescents.

Members of the 2013 Pura Belpré Award Committee are: Chair Charmette S. Kuhn-Kendrick, Chattahoochee Valley Regional Library, Columbus, Ga.; Lucia Acosta, Princeton (N.J.) Public Library; Nez Crosby, DeKalb County Public Library, Chamblee, Ga.; Katie Cunningham, Lexington, Ky.; Dr. Robin Fogle Kurz, School of Library and Information Science, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge; Dr. Ruth E. Quiroa, National Louis University, Lisle, Ill.; and Jenna C. Yoder, Dallas Public Library.

ALSC is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. With a network of more than 4,000 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty, ALSC is committed to creating a better future for children through libraries. To learn more about ALSC, visit their website at

Founded in 1971, REFORMA is committed to promoting the development of library collections that include Spanish language and Latino oriented collections; advocating for library services and programs that meet the needs of the Latino community; educating the Latino population of the availability of library resources; and the recruitment of bilingual and bicultural library professionals and support staff. For more information on REFORMA, visit

For information on the Pura Belpré Award and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit


Macey Morales

Media Relations Manager

Public Information Office (PIO)

800-545-2433 ext.4393