Pedro Martín and Ari Tison win Pura Belpré Awards

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/22/2024

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BALTIMORE — Pedro Martín, illustrator and author of “Mexikid: A Graphic Memoir,” and Ari Tison, author of “Saints of the Household,” are the 2024 recipients of the Pura Belpré Youth Illustrator Award, Children’s Author Award and Young Adult 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 during the American Library Association’s (ALA) LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience, held Jan. 19–22 in Baltimore.

The awards are administered by the Association for Library Service to Children and the Young Adult Library Services Association, divisions of ALA, and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate.

“Mexikid: A Graphic Memoir” is a graphic memoir set in 1977 about Pedro and his family on a road trip to Mexico in their Winnebago. They are on their way to bring their grandfather home to live with them, but first they must help him accomplish a special mission. The book was written by Pedro Martín and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

“Mexikid: A Graphic Memoir” is a visual feast, chock-a-block with innovative visual narrative turns and evocative palettes, all rendered with complete joy,” said Eileen Makoff, Pura Belpré Award Committee Chair.

Pedro Martín is a former Hallmark artist who lives in the Midwest. He chronicles his childhood online at @mexikdstories.

The Belpré Committee selected three Honor Books for illustration.

“Mi papá es un agrícola/My Father, the Farmworker,” illustrated by José B. Ramírez, written by J. Roman Pérez Varela and published by Lil’ Libros.

Ramirez quietly centers the dignity and humanity of the farmworker in warm and cool colored illustrations depicting earth, sky and the agrícola. The use of bright, warm colors under a large sun and opened hands on two of the double-page spreads effectively show the physical toil of this job.

“Papá’s Magical Water-Jug Clock,” illustrated by Eliza Kinkz, written by Jesús Trejo and published by Minerva, an imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers, a division of Astra Publishing House.

Eliza Kinkz’s mixed-media illustrations in “pencil, ink, gouache, crayons – and a few drops of queso” make this already heartwarming and laugh-out-loud story exceptional. Kinkz is adept at portraying humor from a child’s perspective with visual gems: the luchadora end pages, trees with faces, sunbathing cats and skateboarding peacocks.

“Remembering,” illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia, written by Xelena González and published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

Garcia’s illustrations gracefully depict the honoring of a beloved, deceased pet on Día de los Muertos. They are rendered in acrylic paint on paper in rich cool colors with sparks of warmth, symbolizing the love and emotional heart of this story. Garcia excels at beautifully depicting a longstanding tradition.

The Belpré Committee selected five Children’s Author Honor Books. 

“Alebrijes,” written by Donna Barba Higuera, illustrated by David Álvarez and published by Levine Querido.

In “Alebrijes,” Higuera’s dystopian Earth setting has been a wasteland for 400 years when Leandro, a poor, oppressed Cascabel descendant of San Joaquin Valley workers is banished from Pocatel. The ruling elite do not expect his exile to result in an upheaval of their world, one that frees the Cascabeles.

“Aniana del Mar Jumps In,” written by Jasminne Mendez and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Aniana loves the ocean and dreams of joining a swim team, but her mother is terrified and refuses to let her swim competitively. Then, at just 12 years old, Ani is diagnosed with a painful, chronic inflammatory disease that changes her body forever. The only relief for her pain is the water.

“Benita y las Criaturas Nocturnas,” written by Mariana Llanos, illustrated by Cocoretto and published by Barefoot Books.

Benita is settling in for the night with her book when she gets a visit from three different monsters straight from Peruvian folklore: Terrifying Cuco, chilling Tunche and petrifying Supay. But the tables are turned as Benita tames the monsters, turning them into book lovers, too.

“Papá’s Magical Water-Jug Clock,” written by Jesús Trejo, illustrated by Eliza Kinkz and published by Minerva, an imprint of Astra Books for Young Readers, a division of Astra Publishing House.

Jesús accompanies his father, a landscaper, on his Saturday jobs. They take a magical water-jug clock to mark time, but the water runs out before the work is done. The text conveys a childlike sense of wonder and imagination, the bonds of familial love and the dignity of work.

“Something Like Home,” written by Andrea Beatriz Arango and published by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.

Laura makes a call to 911 that changes her life forever. She is taken away from her parents–forced to live with her strict, overbearing Titi. She’s desperate to reunite with her loving mother and father and devises a plan, with the help of a puppy, to get them back.

“Saints of the Household” is the story of two Bribri brothers who come across their cousin arguing in the woods with her boyfriend–and violently attack him. As each brother considers the consequences of his actions, readers delve into a past filled with anger, grief and trauma. The book was written by Ari Tison and published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group.

Tison reveals the complex interplay between Latino identities, colonization of Indigenous people, and layers of intergenerational trauma and oppression in spare, transcendent prose vignettes and poetry,” Makoff said.

Tison is a Bribri (Indigenous Costa Rican) American poet and storyteller from Minnesota where she also works to bring incarcerated voices to the world.

The Belpré Committee selected two Young Adult Author Honor Books.

“The Prince and the Coyote,” written by David Bowles, illustrated by Amanda Mijangos and published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Levine Querido.

As the grip of the Tepaneca Empire weakens, rival Mexican city-states jockey for power, and the crown prince of Acolhua is forced into exile after a coup. The young prince bides his time and awaits his redemption. As he comes of age the Aztec empire is born.

“Worm: A Cuban American Odyssey,” written and illustrated by Edel Rodriguez and published by Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Co.

In words and pictures, Rodriguez chronicles his childhood in Cuba under the Castro regime, his exodus to Miami during the Mariel boatlift, and his career as an artist for “Time” magazine. It serves as a powerful reminder of what immigrants leave when they come to this country.

The members of the 2024 Pura Belpré Award Committee are Chair Eileen Makoff, PS 234 Independence School, New York; Monica P. Anchondo, Las Vegas-Clark County Library District; Lissette González, Berkeley Public Library, California; Jonathan Hunt, San Diego County Office of Education; Daniella C. Pagán, BookOps/New York Public Library & Brooklyn Public Library; Ruth E. Quiroa, National Louis University, Lisle, Illinois; Beatriz Pascual Wallace, Seattle Public Library; and Emily Zorea, Ithaca School District, Richland Center, Wisconsin (award administrative assistant).

Association for Library Service to Children 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 members are committed to engaging communities to build healthy, successful futures for all children. To learn more, visit www.ala.org/alsc.

The mission of the Young Adult Library Services Association is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives. For more information and to access national guidelines and other resources, go to www.ala.org/yalsa or contact the office at email yalsa@ala.org.

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, visit www.reforma.org.

For information on the Pura Belpré Award and other ALA Youth Media Awards, visit www.ala.org/yma.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library's role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit www.ala.org.

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