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Larra Clark/Macey Morales
ALA Media Relations
For Immediate Release
January 23, 2006                                                 


[En español]




Raul Colón, Viola Canales win Pura Belpré Awards


(SAN ANTONIO) Raul Colón, illustrator of “Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart,” and Viola Canales, author of “The Tequila Worm,” are the 2006 winners of the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award and Author Award respectively, honoring Latino authors and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children’s books. The awards were announced January 23 during the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in San Antonio, January 20-25.


The awards are administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of ALA, and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking.


“Colón has created a new tall-tale heroine, Doña Flor, whose presence fills the pages of this book. She gazes above the mountains, her eye looks through a doorway, and she dwarfs the mighty puma. The spectacular illustrations perfectly match the story and accurately reflect the culture and landscape of the American Southwest,” said Award Committee Chair Barbara Scotto. The book was written by Pat Mora and published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House.


Raised in Puerto Rico, Colón now lives in New City, N.Y. A multi-talented artist, his work ranges from book illustrations to commercial advertising, from political cartoons to commissioned artwork for museums. He has illustrated numerous children’s books and has won many awards from the Society of Illustrators. This is his second collaboration with Mora, the first book being “Tomás and the Library Lady,” published in 1997.


In her debut novel, Canales shows, through a series of vignettes, how a Latina child maintains her cultural integrity with pride and humor while living within another culture. Without sentimentality, Canales develops fascinating characters who provide wonderful insights into the Latino cultural experience. The book is published by Wendy Lamb Books, a division of Random House.


“‘The Tequila Worm’ sensitively addresses an issue that faces anyone who lives in a minority culture – how do you bridge the gap between the two worlds in which you live? Canales provides an answer well worth considering – you remain true to yourself and your roots, and you freely bring one world into another,” Scotto said.


Canales grew up in a close-knit community in McAllen, Texas. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Among her many jobs, Canales was a captain in the U.S. Army and also has worked as a community organizer for the United Farm Workers. Now writing fiction full-time, she hopes her work will empower and improve young lives.


The Belpré committee selected three Honor Books for illustration: “Arrorró, Mi Niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games,” selected and illustrated by Lulu Delacre and published by Lee & Low Books, Inc.; “César: ¡Sí, Se Puede!Yes, We Can!” illustrated by David Diaz, written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand and published by Marshall Cavendish; and “My Name Is Celia/Me Llamo Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz/La Vida de Celia Cruz,” illustrated by Rafael López, written by Monica Brown and published by Luna Rising, a bilingual imprint of Rising Moon.


“Arrorró, Mi Niño: Latino Lullabies and Gentle Games,” a bilingual collection of traditional Latino games and lullabies, is a tribute to motherhood. Delacre’s soft and tender illustrations celebrate the Latino family in a wide variety of settings. The combination of delicate and glowing colors makes each illustration warm and full of appeal.


“My Name Is Celia/Me Llamo Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz/La Vida de Celia Cruz,” is as full of movement and excitement as the life of Celia Cruz. Vibrant colors, extravagant illustrations and flowing patterns create a mood of energy in this book. Full of the details of folklore, fashion and music, the book teems with life.


In “César:¡Sí, Se Puede! Yes, We Can!” the brilliant and powerful illustrations support the poetic text and bring to life tumultuous historical events. Diaz’ stylized folk-art images are strong, opulent and optimistic, matching Chávez’s philosophy and message.


Three Author Award Honor Books were named: “César:¡Sí, Se Puede! Yes, We Can!,” by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, “Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart” by Pat Mora, and “Becoming Naomi León” by Pam Muñoz Ryan and published by Scholastic Press.


“César:¡Sí, Se Puede! Yes, We Can!” is an outstanding contribution to the body of literature published for children about Chávez. Bernier-Grand’s poems flawlessly intertwine Spanish words into the English text, which includes prayers, folk sayings and Chávez’s own words.


Impregnated with the flavors, smells and folk ways of the American Southwest, “Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart” is a captivating tall tale. Mora’s poetic language brings to life this original and engaging character whose love and concern for her neighbors and friends fills the story with joy.


In “Becoming Naomi León,” Muñoz Ryan writes convincingly about the love that binds an extended family together. Characters are well-drawn and balanced, relationships are honest, and Naomi’s growing awareness of her cultural heritage and sense of self will keep readers engrossed.


Members of the ALSC/REFORMA Pura Belpré Committee are: Chair, Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, Mass.; Mariá E. Gentle, Arlington County Public Library, Arlington, Va.; Lucía M. González, Broward County Library, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Leslie Hauschildt, Jefferson County Public Library, Evergreen, Colo.; Armando Ramírez, San Mateo County Library, San Mateo, Calif.; Tim Wadham, Maricopa County Library District, Phoenix.; and Martha M. Walke, Children’s Literature New England, Inc., South Strafford, Vt.


More information about the Pura Belpré Award can be found at

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