YMA highlights 2021 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature youth category winners

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/25/2021


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations



CHICAGO - The Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA), announced 2021 winners of its Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature youth categories today at 8 a.m. Central during the ALA Youth Media Award announcements at ALA Midwinter Virtual, held Jan. 22-26.

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 2021 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature Picture Book winner is “Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist,” written by Julie Leung, illustrated by Chris Sasaki, and published by Schwartz & Wade, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.

“Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist” is a beautifully illustrated and well-researched picture book biography that highlights the life of Tyrus Wong, a relatively unknown Chinese-American artist whose melding of Eastern and Western art principles made a substantial impact on the visual style of the classic film “Bambi.” Leung and Sasaki have crafted an inspiring story and a reminder of the many unrecognized yet impactful contributions of immigrants in American society.

The committee selected one Picture Book Honor title. The Picture Book Honor title is “Danbi Leads the School Parade,” written and illustrated by Anna Kim, published by Viking Children's Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

The 2021 Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature winner is “When You Trap a Tiger,” written by Tae Keller, and published by Random House Children’s Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.

Inspired by the tales that her own halmoni (grandmother) told her as a child, author Tae Keller tells a magical story that weaves Korean folklore with the contemporary lives of three generations of Korean Americans. Keller highlights their strength and resilience as well as the strong bonds of family, sisterhood, love and friendship. 

The committee selected one Children Literature Honor title, “Prairie Lotus” written by Linda Sue Park, and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, a division of Houghton Mifflin.

The Asian/Pacific American Award for Youth Literature winner is “This Light Between Us,” written by Andrew Fukuda, and published by Tor Teen Book.

“This Light Between Us” is a wonderful coming-of-age story that allows readers a glimpse back into history during one of the world’s darkest periods of conflict and prejudice. Through all the darkness, there is still a thread of hope that celebrates the amazing power of the human spirit to endure.

The committee selected one Youth Literature Honor, “Displacement,” written by Kiku Hughes, published by First Second, an imprint of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group.

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

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 2021 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature committee members include:

Co- Chairs Buenaventura “Ven” Basco, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida; Dora Ho, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles; and Helen Look, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Picture Book Award Committee:

Chair: Hannah Lee Park, American University Library, Washington, D.C.; Arya Hackney, Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, Tennessee; Hadeal Salamah, Georgetown Day School, Washington, D.C.; Karen Nguyen, Curtis School Library, Los Angeles; Maria Shackles, Tacoma Public Library, Tacoma, Washington; and Yumi Ohira, University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, Arlington, Texas.

Children's Literature Award Committee: 

Chair: Lana Adlawan, Sonoma County Library, Rohnert Park, California; Jade Alburo, UCLA Library, Los Angeles; Christine Chai, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles; Kate Rolfe, Erickson Library, Lake Superior College, Duluth, Minnesota; and Florence Tang, Mercer University Swilley Graduate and Professional Library, Atlanta.

Youth Literature Award Committee:

Chair: Zoë McLaughlin, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; Ammi Bui, University of Texas, San Antonio, Texas; Kristyn Dorfman, The Nightingale-Bamford School, New York; Janet Mumford, École Henry Anderson Elementary School Library, Richmond, BC, Canada; Lalitha Nataraj, California State University San Marcos, San Marcos, California; Renee Roberson-Tecco, Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library, Cincinnati; and Julia Wright, Alameda County Library, Fremont, California. 

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.