For immediate release | January 28, 2019

Yuyi Morales, Elizabeth Acevedo win Pura Belpré Awards

SEATTLE – Yuyi Morales, illustrator of “Dreamers,” and Elizabeth Acevedo, author of “The Poet X,” are the 2019 winners of the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award and Author Award, honoring Latinx 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 National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking (REFORMA), an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA), and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of ALA, during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits held January 25 - 29, in Seattle, Washington. The awards are administered by the ALSC and REFORMA.

“Dreamers” is a tale about an immigrant mother and her son who were “[u]nable to understand and afraid to speak…” until they found the library. The books in the library taught them many things and gave them the confidence they needed to succeed and dream in their new country. The book was written by Yuyi Morales and published by Neal Porter Books, Holiday House Publishing, Inc.

“Morales’s stunning mixed media illustrations celebrate the power of children’s books and libraries and the ability of immigrants to create new lives and stories,” said Pura Belpré Award Committee Chair Dr. Ramona Caponegro.

Born and raised in Mexico, Yuyi Morales immigrated to the United States with her son, Kelly, in 1994. At that time, she barely spoke any English. Since then, she has written and/or illustrated many distinctive books for children, including five other books that have won the Pura Belpré Award.

The Belpré Committee selected two Honor Books for illustration.

“Islandborn,” illustrated by Leo Espinosa, written by Junot Díaz and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Young Readers Group, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

“Islandborn” is a tale about Lola, a young immigrant Afro-Latina girl who has to draw a picture of her birth country for school but doesn’t remember that place. Espinosa takes us on a vibrant, colorful journey as Lola discovers the island through the memories of her family and friends.

“When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana,” illustrated by Jose Ramirez, written by Michael Mahin and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

“When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana” is a tale about the famous musician's quest to discover his unique musical sound. Santana's exploration is beautifully depicted with bold colors and striking illustrations that reflect his Latinx roots.

“The Poet X” is a tale about Xiomara, an “unhide-able” Dominican who “…was a little too much body for such a young girl,” according to Mami. As she deals with her extremely religious mother and other challenges, Xiomara writes poetry, which becomes “the most freeing experience of [her] life.” The book was published by HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

“Acevedo’s strong character and her captivating story, told through intense and lyrical verses, champion poetry as a way to understand the world and one’s self,” said Dr. Caponegro.

Elizabeth Acevedo was born and raised in New York. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland and is a Dominican National Poetry Slam Champion. “The Poet X” is her first novel. She resides in Washington D.C. and continues to write and perform poetry.

The Belpré Committee selected one Honor Book for narration.

“They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems,” written by David Bowles and published by Cinco Puntos Press.

“They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems” is a tale about a 12-year-old, red-headed, freckled Mexican-American boy’s daily adventures. Through poetry, Bowles chronicles Güero’s middle school journey as he deals with bullies, girls, and the perils of being a misfit. Life can be tough for a pale-skinned border kid, but Güero learns to cope by embracing rich family traditions.

Members of the 2019 Committee: Chair Dr. Ramona Caponegro, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Mich.; Anna Maria Avalos, Los Angeles Public Library Central Library; René Bue, Hedberg Public Library, Janesville, Wis.; Josefa Bustos Pelayo, Jefferson Charter Academy, Hanford, Calif. and California State University, Fresno, Calif.; Evan Michael Bush, Athens-Clarke County Library, Athens, Ga.; Elizabeth Anne Negrete Gaylor, Ardmore (Okla.) Public Library; and Patricia Cortez Valdovinos, Los Angeles 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

Deputy Director

Communications and Marketing Office