Rafael López, Margarita Engle win Pura Belpré Awards

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/11/2016


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations



BOSTON – Rafael López, illustrator of “Drum Dream Girl,” and Margarita Engle, author of “Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir," are the 2016 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 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 Jan. 8 – 12, in Boston. The awards are administered by the ALSC and REFORMA.

“Drum Dream Girl” is a tale about Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl in 1930s Cuba, who became a world-renowned drummer. Rafael López’s flawless and detailed illustrations in acrylic paint on wood are warm and vibrant; dynamic, double spread renderings bring to life Millo’s story.

The book was written by Margarita Engle and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Rafael López’s masterful art brings to life the drumbeats in Margarita Engle’s story. His dreamy illustrations transport us to Millo’s tropical island,” said Pura Belpré Award Committee Chair Ana-Elba Pavon.

Rafael López, award-winning artist and children's book illustrator, was born in Mexico City.  He won the Pura Belpré Medal in 2010 for his illustrations in “Book Fiesta!” written by Pat Mora. López divides his time between his studios in San Miguel de Allende, México and San Diego, California.

The Belpré Committee selected three Honor Books for illustration.

“My Tata’s Remedies = Los remedios de mi tata,” illustrated by Antonio Castro L., written by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford and published by Cinco Puntos Press. “My Tata’s Remedies = Los remedios de mi tata” is an intergenerational story about how a grandfather (Tata) heals and cares for his family, friends and neighbors. From his Tata, Aaron learns first hand the significance of healing with a tender touch of wisdom and medicinal herbs. Expertly rendered, realistic images encompass diverse expression, movement and emotion.

“Mango, Abuela, and Me,” illustrated by Angela Dominguez, written by Meg Medina and published by Candlewick Press.

Angela Dominguez’s digitally-enhanced, mixed media illustrations are warm and expressive. They recreate the tone of affection and caring that exists between a young girl and her abuela. Dominguez masterfully conveys the sadness of the abuela for her homeland and her transformation as she realizes that home is where your heart resides.

“Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras,” illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS. This book about Mexican artist José Guadalupe Posada teaches children about a forgotten art form and gives its audience a glimpse of Mexican history, through the digital hieroglyphic collages created by Duncan Tonatiuh and the colorful journey of lithography, engraving and etching of Posada’s designs.

“Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir” brings us a memoir in free verse that conveys the story of growing up in two cultures during an era of great tension between the United States and Cuba. Poet Margarita Engle takes her young audience on a journey of longing. It is a story that touches on issues affecting numerous immigrant children today.

The book was published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

“Engle’s memoir of living in two cultures and the inability to cross the sky to visit family will resonate with youth facing similar circumstances,” said Pavon.

Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American author who has received multiple awards and honors. Her book, “The Surrender Tree,” was awarded the 2009 Pura Belpré Medal and a Newbery Honor. Engle lives in central California.

The Belpré Committee selected two Honor Books for narrative.

“The Smoking Mirror,” written by David Bowles and published by IFWG Publishing, Inc.

A fantasy novel about 12-year-old twins growing into their magical, shape-shifting abilities, as they descend into the Land of the Dead to find their mother. Bowles creates an action-packed story based on Aztec and Mayan mythology while capturing the realities of life in contemporary South Texas and Mexico.

“Mango, Abuela, and Me,” written by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez and published by Candlewick Press.

After Abuela moves in with her family, Mia finds a clever way to communicate with her Spanish-speaking grandmother who has left her homeland to live in the United States. Meg Medina blends Spanish and English to seamlessly create a touching tale of transition, love and the willingness to connect.

Members of the 2016 Pura Belpré Award Selection Committee are: Chair Ana-Elba Pavon, Oakland (Calif.) Public Library; Sylvia Cecilia Aguiñaga, San Jose (Calif.) State University; Pat Bashir, Nashville (Tenn.) Public Library; Maria F. Estrella, Cleveland (Ohio) Public Library; Maria C. Mena, Newport News (Va.) Public Library System; Teresa Mlawer, West Orange, N.J.; and Abigail Morales, San Diego (Calif.) County Library.

ALSC is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library services 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 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.