Duncan Tonatiuh, Guadalupe Garcia McCall win Pura Belpré Awards

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/23/2012


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations



DALLAS – Duncan Tonatiuh, illustrator of “Diego Rivera: His World and Ours,” and Guadalupe Garcia McCall, author of “Under the Mesquite,” are the 2012 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. 20– 24 in Dallas.

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

“Diego Rivera: His World and Ours,” highlights the accomplishments of Mexican painter, activist, and muralist Diego Rivera. Tonatiuh’s stylized illustrations include elements of Mayan artwork and represent his interpretation of Diego’s original artwork, answering the question: what would Diego paint today? Through eye-catching digital collage, Tonatiuh juxtaposes contemporary Mexican life with the past. 

The book was written by Duncan Tonatiuh and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS.

“Tonatiuh’s visually appealing, layered artwork rendered in a mural style pays homage to Diego’s paintings while balancing traditional images with modern twists,” said Pura Belpré Award Committee Chair Jamie Campbell Naidoo.

Duncan Tonatiuh, recipient of a 2011 Pura Belpré Honor Award for “Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin” is a native of Mexico City who grew up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  He graduated from Parsons the New School for Design and currently resides in both New York City and Mexico.


The Belpré Committee selected two Honor Books for illustration:

Rafael López for “The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred,” written by Samantha R. Vamos and published by Charlesbridge.

Nothing is better than a delicious bowl of arroz con leche unless, of course, a host of farm animals have a hand in the preparation! Lopez’s blazing illustrations for the rhythmic, rollicking cumulative tale, “The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred” radiate a cheerful exuberance and are peppered with Latino cultural details that extend Vamos’ perky narrative.

Sara Palacios for “Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match /Marisol McDonald no combina,” written by Monica Brown and published by Children’s Book Press, an imprint of Lee and Low Books Inc.

Bright and vivacious Marisol, a young Peruvian-Scottish-American girl, loves peanut butter and jelly burritos and speaks both English and Spanish. Unfortunately, her teacher and classmates do not appreciate Marisol’s mashing of cultures. Using mixed media techniques, Palacios’ illustrations exude child appeal and biculturalism, allowing astute visual readers to identify the blending of cultures.

In “Under the Mesquite,” published by Lee and Low Books Inc., Guadalupe Garcia McCall, writing in emotionally riveting free verse, gracefully manages to convey the experience of growing up in a bicultural community in Texas with geographical accuracy and a radiating authentic voice for its main protagonist fourteen-year-old Lupita, the oldest of eight children who is dealing with her mother’s terminal illness. 

“Garcia McCall deftly communicates not only the experience of a youth losing her mother to cancer but that of a child surrounded by siblings embracing and discarding their Mexican roots in various degrees,” said Naidoo.

Currently a junior high-school English teacher, Mexican-born Garcia McCall immigrated to the United States at the age of six and grew up in a border town in Texas, which serves as the setting of her debut novel.


The Belpré Committee selected two Honor Books for narration.

Margarita Engle for “Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck” published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Engle’s beautifully written poetic narrative cuts to the heart of an untold story in Latin American history and describes the enslavement of the native peoples of the Caribbean by the Spanish along with the mixing of Spanish and native blood that now forms the vast majority of Latin America. Told from several points of view, the story captures the rhythm and sounds from a time long ago and encourages readers to explore Latino culture on their own.

Xavier Garza for “Maximilian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A Bilingual Lucha Libre Thriller” published by Cinco Puntos Press.

Xavier Garza successfully captures the excitement that Max, an eleven-year-old Mexican-American boy, displays when he discovers that his favorite Lucha Libre wrestler is coming to town and might have a strange connection with his own family! This action packed bilingual mystery novel uses playful language that reinforces elements of Mexican-American culture and overflows with almost unbridled excitement for Lucha wrestling.


Members of the 2012 Pura Belpré Award Selection Committee are: Chair Jamie Campbell Naidoo, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; Rebecca Alcalá, San Francisco Public Library (Calif.); Carling Febry, San Diego, Calif.; Daisy Gutierrez-Ngo, San Jacinto College, Pasadena, Texas; Amanda Sharpe, Harper Junior High School Library, Davis, Calif.; Henrietta M. Smith, Delray Beach, Fla.; and Luis Vargas, Long Beach (Calif.) 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 Web site at www.ala.org/alsc.

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.