For immediate release | January 30, 2023

Adriana M. Garcia, Claribel A. Ortega, Vincent Tirado win Pura Belpré Awards

NEW ORLEANS – Adriana M. Garcia, illustrator of “Where Wonder Grows,” Claribel A. Ortega, author of “Frizzy”, and Vincent Tirado, author of “Burn Down, Rise Up” are the 2023 recipients of the Pura Belpré Youth Illustrator Award, Children's Author Award, and Young Adult 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 during ALA’s LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience held January 27-30, in New Orleans.

The awards are administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), divisions of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate.

“Where Wonder Grows” is a story about Indigenous knowledge of the natural world. A grandmother helps her granddaughters discover and appreciate the natural elements of mother earth, and the healing and strength found in intergenerational communities and families. “Where Wonder Grows” is illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia and written by Xelena González and published by Cinco Puntos Press, an imprint of Lee & Low Books Inc.

“Garcia’s mural-like illustrations exude light and movement, while reflecting the natural elements (earth, water, air, fire) mentioned in the story,” said Pura Belpré Award Committee Chair Diane Olivo-Posner.

Adriana M. Garcia is an activist, community muralist, and was honored in 2018 for illustrating the book “All Around Us” by the American Indian Youth Literature Award, Pura Belpré, and the Tomás Rivera Book Award. She was born, raised and currently resides in the Westside neighborhood of San Antonio, Texas.

The Belpré Committee selected six Honor Books for Illustration.

“The Coquíes Still Sing” illustrated by Krystal Quiles, written by Karina Nicole González and published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group.

As a family prepares for an upcoming hurricane, the story weaves the power of community and resistance of people in Puerto Rico impacted by Hurricane María. Through expressive paint strokes, layouts and a variety of colors, Quiles’s illustration sets the tone and captures the experiences and strength of children and adults and their respective roles in community rebuilding.

“A Land of Books: Dreams of Young Mexihcah Word Painters” illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh, and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS.

This lyrical title provides the historical preservation of Mesoamerican storytelling. Through pre-Columbian-inspired illustrations, Amoxtin, books that gather Mexihcah knowledge, culture and history, transcend the pages along with the process of how this ancient civilization passed them down to their future generations.

“Magic: Once Upon a Faraway Land” illustrated and written by Mirelle Ortega and published by Cameron Kids, an imprint of Cameron + Company, a division of ABRAMS.

From her family’s pineapple farm in Mexico, a young girl discovers the true meaning of magic. Through life’s highs and lows, the young narrator weaves her story with words of life’s transformations and changes that make life’s journey magical.

“Phenomenal AOC: The Roots and Rise of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” illustrated by Loris Lora, written by Anika Aldamuy Denise and published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.

This inspiring biography on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), the youngest congresswoman in America, highlights her life’s upbringing and determination. From her childhood in the Bronx to her journey to the Capitol Building, this title reminds readers of their capability of making a difference.

“Srta. Quinces” illustrated and written by Kat Fajardo and published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Suyapa / Sue only wants to spend her summer with friends, but her family has other plans. They set off to visit their relatives in a rural town in Honduras with no reception or internet! There, Sue’s mother decides to throw her a surprise quinceañera -- the last thing Sue wanted.

“Still Dreaming / Seguimos Soñando” illustrated by Magdalena Mora, written by Claudia Guadalupe Martínez, translated by Luis Humberto Crosthwaite and published by Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low Books Inc.

A family is forced to flee their home in the United States or risk being separated. Along the way, they meet others with a similar story - working class families forced to leave their dreams. Through captured emotions and beautiful scenery, this story depicts the Mexican Repatriation of the 1930’s through the eyes of a child.

“Frizzy” written by Claribel A. Ortega, illustrated by Rose Bousamra, and published by First Second, a division of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group.

“Frizzy” is the story of a young Dominican girl whose greatest enemy is the hair salon and her mother’s pressure to have “presentable” or “good” hair. Marlene doesn’t understand why her curls are not considered acceptable, but with the help from Tia Ruby, Marlene learns to appreciate, care, and proudly wear her beautiful curly hair.

“Oretga’s work focuses on mother-daughter and family relationships, how beauty standards can affect youth, all while tackling the challenges of anti-Blackness in Latinx communities,” said Pura Belpré Award Committee Chair Olivo-Posner.

Claribel A. Ortega is a former reporter who writes middle-grade and young adult fantasy inspired by her Dominican heritage. Ortega is also a co-host on her podcast, Bad Author Book Club.

The Belpré Committee selected three Children’s Author Honor Books.

“The Coquíes Still Sing” written by Karina Nicole González, illustrated by Krystal Quiles and published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group.

Descriptive language and different lengths of sentences, presents readers an empowering story of communities in Puerto Rico impacted by Hurricane María. By centering the experiences of different types of families and voices, González provides a call to action for youth and their role in organizing and resisting natural and human disasters.

“The Notebook Keeper: A Story of Kindness from the Border” written by Stephen Briseño, illustrated by Magdalena Mora and published by Random House Studio, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.

Noemi and her mother are denied entry into the U.S. from Mexico and must find the refugee in charge of the notebook, an unofficial ledger of those waiting to cross into the United States.

“Tumble” written by Celia C. Pérez, and published by Kokila, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Before she decides whether to accept her stepfather’s proposal of adoption, twelve-year-old Adela Ramírez reaches out to her estranged biological father and eccentric family of wrestlers she has never met, bringing Adela closer to understanding the expansive definition of family.

“Burn Down, Rise Up” was written by Vincent Tirado and published by Sourcebooks Fire, an imprint of Sourcebooks.

“Burn Down, Rise Up” is the story of Raquel, a queer Afro-Latinx teen from the Bronx, where disappearances keep happening. When her mom comes down with a mysterious illness and her crush Charlize’s cousin goes missing, they must journey to a sinister underworld and play the Echo Game -- a game whose rules are based on a dark chapter in New York’s history. If Raquel and Charlize want to save their home and loved ones, they must play the game or die trying.

“Tirado’s thrilling story of uprising masterfully blends horror and the Bronx’s history with gentrification and systemic racism,” said Pura Belpré Award Committee Chair Diane Olivo-Posner.

Vincent Tirado is a nonbinary Afro-Latinx, born and raised in the Bronx. They are a speculative fiction writer and horror enthusiast. “Burn Down, Rise Up” is their debut novel.

The Belpré Committee selected three Young Adult Author Honor Books.

“Breathe and Count Back from Ten” written by Natalia Sylvester and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

In this gorgeously authentic novel, Verónica, a Peruvian-American teen with hip dysplasia, auditions to become a mermaid at a Central Florida theme park in the summer before her senior year, all while figuring out her first real boyfriend and how to reclaim and feel safe in her own body.

“High Spirits,” written by Camille Gomera-Tavarez, and published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Levine Querido.

These eleven interconnected short stories focus on the Belen family across multiple generations. This collection on the Dominican Diaspora explores themes of machismo, mental health, identity, and, of course, family.

“The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School” written by Sonora Reyes, and published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Yamilet Flores has the responsibility of keeping her brother out of trouble, making her mom proud, and not falling in love. After being ousted at her previous school, Yami must pretend to be straight, but finds out the joys and heartaches of living your full truth out loud.

The members of the 2023 Pura Belpré Award Committee are: Chair Diane Olivo-Posner, Los Angeles Public Library, California; N. Yasmin Bromir, Montgomery College, Germantown, Maryland; Sujei Lugo Vázquez, Boston Public Library; Angelica Mejia, City of Carlsbad, California; Lourdes Montes, Charleston County Public Library, South Carolina; Madeline Peña Feliz, Los Angeles Public Library, California; and Ricardo Madera Ramírez, Sacramento Public Library, California.

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 members are committed to engaging communities to build healthy, successful futures for all children. To learn more about ALSC, visit their website at www.ala.org/alsc.

The mission of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is networking, advocacy, and professional development. The Young Adult Library Services Association empowers all those involved in the profession to provide equitable, diverse, and inclusive teen services. For more information about YALSA or to access national guidelines and other resources drive to www.ala.org/yalsa.

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 www.reforma.org.

For information on the Pura Belpré Award and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit www.ala.org/yma.

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