YMA highlights 2020 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature youth category winners

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/27/2020


Dora Ho

Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association

Affiliate of the American Library Asociation


PHILADELPHIA - The Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA), announced 2020 winners of its Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature youth categories today during the ALA Youth Media Award announcements in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  

The Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature celebrate Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage. The awards are based on literary and artistic merit within three youth categories including Picture Book, Children’s Literature and Young Adult Literature.     

The 2020 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature Picture Book winner is “Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom,” written by Teresa Robeson, illustrated by Rebecca Huang and published by Sterling Children's Books.   

This picture book biography explores the story of Chinese American experimental physicist Wu Chien Shiung, an essential figure in the history of American science. Through vigorous and meticulous experimentation, she helped scientists such as Enrico Fermi prove their theories, but each time was bypassed for the Nobel Prize in favor of her male colleagues. However, Chien Shiung continued to persevere in her work despite the discrimination she faced for her race and gender and was eventually named “The First Lady of Physics Research” by Smithsonian magazine and “Queen of Physics” by Newsweek. The committee chose Queen of Physics for its much-needed and timely story about a Chinese American woman scientist whose contributions have been overlooked for too long. We consider this title to be an essential addition to S.T.E.A.M. and biography collections for beginning readers and families interested in learning about inspiring Asian American women role models.  

The committee selected “Bilal Cooks Daal,” written by Aisha Saeed, illustrated by Anoosha Syed and published by Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing as Picture Book Honor title.  

“Stargazing” by Jen Wang and published by First Second, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, is the 2020 Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature winner.  

For Christine, life was busy enough with school, violin lessons, and Chinese class. When her parents offer their mother-in-law unit to a struggling family in church, Moon Lin and her mother not only move into their living space, but into the lives of Christine and her family as well. Even though they are the same age, Moon appears to be everything Christine is not; She has no father, her family is vegetarian, she does not speak any Chinese, she’s outspoken and she’s into K-pop. For the normally reserved Christine, Moon is nothing like anyone she has ever known, and she is definitely not “Asian.” 

The committee selected one Children Literature Honor title “I’m Ok” written by Patti Kim and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. 

The Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature winner is “They Called Us Enemy” by George Takei, Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, illustrated by Harmony Becker and published by Top Shelf Productions, an imprint of IDW Publishing.  

In this moving graphic novel, George Takei shares his childhood experience growing up in a Japanese internment camp during World War II.  During that time, the loyalty of Japanese Americans was questioned, they were unlawfully detained, racism was legalized, they were threatened with deportation, and subjected to other de-humanizing situations. Takei recounts his family’s imprisonment from a child’s perspective, including the confusion and fear of leaving their home at a moment’s notice. He depicts the long-term effects that internment had on his parents, his struggle to fully understand what they went through once he reached adulthood, and how his experiences propelled him into a career in acting and fighting injustice through social activism. The committee found that this graphic novel has significant historical value and it is a perfect fit among resources in the Asian American culture due to current immigration controversy.  

The committee selected one Young Adult Literature Honor title “Frankly in Love” by David Yoon and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.   

Winner and Honor books were chosen from titles by or about Asian Pacific Americans published in 2019.  Each award will be named and given the award plaque during the annual APALA Literature Award Ceremony taking place during the 2020 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition in Chicago, Illinois.     

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 2020 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature committee members include: Co- Chairs Buenaventura "Ven" Basco, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Fla.; Dora Ho, Los Angeles Public Library, and Helen Look, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. 

Picture Book Award Committee: 
Chair: Eugenia Beh, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.;  Lana Adlawan, Sonoma County Library, Santa Rosa, Calif.; Julia Wright, Alameda County Library, Fremont, Calif.; Amanda Chuong, Princeton (N.J.) Public Library; and Shanna Kim, Los Angeles Public Library.   

Children's Literature Award Committee:  
Chair: Katrina Nye, Kirkus, Issaquah, Wash.; Camden Kimura, Palo Alto (Calif.) City Library; Hadeal Salamah, Georgetown Day School, Washington, D.C.; Maria Shackles, Tacoma (Wash.) Public Library; and Hannah Lee Park, American University Library, Washington, D.C. 

Young Adult Literature Award Committee: 
Chair: Kathy Jung, San Diego County Library, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.; Stephanie Akau, Library of Congress, Washington D.C.; Zoë McLaughlin, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich.; Christina Nhek, Long Beach (Calif.) Public Library, Calif.; and Renee Roberson-Tecco, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Cincinnati, Ohio.  

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.