YMA highlights 2019 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature youth category winners

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/28/2019


Jody Gray


Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services



SEATTLE -The Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA), announced the 2019 winners of its Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature youth categories today during the ALA Youth Media Award announcements in Seattle, Washington. 

The awards, a new addition to the ALA Youth Media Awards announcements, promote Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage and are awarded based on literary and artistic merit. The awards offer three youth categories including Picture Book, Children’s Literature and Young Adult Literature, with winners and honor books selected in each category. 

The 2019 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature Picture Book winner is “Drawn Together,”written by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat, and published by Disney Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. “Drawn Together”is the story of a Thai American boy and his grandfather, who seemingly at first do not share many things in common. They do not speak the same language, eat the same things, or have the same tastes in television shows, and so their world together is shared with many moments of silence. One afternoon their relationship changes over a shared love of art that eloquently captures the linguistic and cultural divides that originally separated the two. As the two settle in to watch television together, the generational differences between them only continue to grow. The boy loses interest and turns to drawing with crayons and markers. The grandfather’s eyes light up,and he brings out his calligraphy brush and ink, and they embark on a collaborative creative adventure that builds a bridge between their two worlds to create one, but not without a little tumult along the way. Lê's words and Dan Santat's art merge in a perfect blend of subtlety and exuberance to show that despite generational and cultural obstacles, we can be drawn together.

The committee selected one Picture Book Honor title, “Grandmother’s Visit,”written by Betty Quan, illustrated by Carmen Mok, and published by Groundwood Books/ House of Anasi Press. “

Front Desk,”written by Kelly Yang and published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.,is the 2019 Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature winner. Debut author Kelly Yang draws from personal experience to create a humorous and poignant novel, “Front Desk,”centering on 10-year-old Mia,who manages a motel with her immigrant parents. Set in the 1990s, readers experience firsthand the hardships of the immigrant experience –long working hours, toiling in menial work, institutional and outright racism, in-group oppression of newer immigrants and the need to bite one’s tongue. Yang's take on key social issues is compelling and translatable beyond cultural borders by giving the voiceless a voice. The themes of community, empowerment and strength are prevalent throughout, depicting the strength we gain from others and how a network of support can bind a community together.

The committee selected one Children’s Literature Honor title, “The House that Lou Built,”written by Mae Respicio, and published by Wendy Lamb Books, in imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

The Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature winner is “Darius the Great is Not Okay,”written by Adib Khorram and published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Darius is an introverted, awkward, tea-loving teenager in Portland, Oregon. He doesn’t fit in at school. Students mock his Persian name, and he is probably the only kid at Chapel Hill High who knows Klingon. Darius feels like a misfit at home too. The only things he shares with his white father are clinical depression and Star Trek nights. Plus, Darius doesn’t feel Persian enough in his family, especially since his younger sister speaks more Farsi. His sense of belonging -in his own skin, in his family and as a Persian -is tested on his first trip to Iran when he visits his ill grandfather. 

The committee selected one Young Adult Literature Honor title “The Astonishing Color of After,” written by Emily X.R. Pan, and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. 

Winner and Honor books were chosen from titles by or about Asian Pacific Americans published in 2018. Each award will be named and given the award seal and plaques during the annual APALA Literature Award Ceremony taking place during the ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Washington, D.C.

For a complete list of Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature including adult fiction and nonfiction titles, please visit http://www.apalaweb.org/awards/literature-awards/

The 2019 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature committee includes Co-Chair Dora Ho, Los Angeles Public Library,Co-Chair Ven Basco, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida,Picture Books Committee Chair Jamie Kurumaji, Fresno County Public Library, Fresno, Calif.,Children’s Literature Committee Chair Xuemin Zhong, County of Los Angeles Public Library,and Youth Literature Committee Chair Rinna Rem, New Orleans Public Library.

The Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) was founded in 1980 by librarians of diverse Asian/Pacific ancestries committed to working together toward a common goal: to create an organization that would address the needs of Asian/Pacific American librarians and those who serve Asian/Pacific American communities.