Continuing our theme of Américas Award winners, here’s another one that was a Commended Title this year: Sylvia and Aki by Winifred Conkling (Tricycle Press, 2011; Gr. 3-6). In addition to the Américas Award, this slim novel also took the 2012 Jane Addams Children’s Literature Award for Older Readers, the 2012 Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, and was a selection of the CCBC Choices 2012 (Cooperative Children’s Book Center). Kirkus Reviews called it “A well-documented, quietly powerful story.”
Sylvia and Aki is “the remarkable story based on true events of Sylvia Mendez and Aki Munemitsu, two ordinary girls living in extraordinary times. When Sylvia and her brothers are not allowed to register at the same school Aki attended – instead, they are sent to a “Mexican school” – the stage is set for Sylvia’s father to challenge in court the separation of races in California’s schools. Ultimately, Mendez vs. Westminster School District led to the desegregation of California schools and helped build the case that would end school segregation nationally.”
If you want to read more about it, visit Winifred Conkling’s website, where you can even see old black and white photos of the people upon whom the characters are based – a serious dose of realism for a book whose cover illustration softens the truth behind the story.
Check it out! Let us know what you think. Would you use it in your classroom?