Saludos todos! I’m just popping in to announce the winners of the 2016 International Latino Book Awards. In the following announcement, Kirk Whisler nicely summarizes what these awards mean for the community of Latin American literature at large, while also giving us some background on the history of the awards:
The Awards are now the largest Latino cultural Awards in the USA and with the 257 finalists this year, it has honored the greatness of 2,171 authors and publishers over the past two decades. These books are a great reflection that books by and about Latinos are in high demand. In 2016 Latinos will purchase over $675 million in books in English and Spanish. The 2016 Finalists for the 18th Annual Int’l Latino Book Awards are another reflection of the growing quality of books by and about Latinos. In order to handle this large number of books, the Awards had nearly 200 judges. The judges glowed more than ever about the high quality of the entries and how many great books there were. The Awards celebrates books in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Finalists are from across the USA and from 17 countries outside the US.
You can also follow the announcement by Kirk Whisler for a complete list of this year’s finalists. Here, however, I will feature authors whom we particularly admire on our blog, and comment upon the general structure of these awards, what makes them unique, and why they’re so exciting!
The book awards are divided into nine categories, each with their own numerous sub-categories: Children, Youth & Young Adult Book Awards, Non-Fiction Awards, Fiction Awards, eBooks & Audio Awards, Portuguese Awards, Design Awards, Translation Awards, The Mariposa Awards (to acknowledge “first” books for new authors), and Themed Awards.
What I find especially exciting is the section on Portuguese Awards, since many Brazilian books are often excluded from Latin American-focused book awards or discussions on Latin American children’s literature in general. This is also one of the reasons, as you will later see, that I will be putting out some posts that focus specifically on Brazilian kids’ books.
Other exciting categories are the sub-categories for Themed Awards, which include Best LGBTQ Themed Book and Best Educational Themed Book. LGBTQ- themed books that also include Latin American characters and themes are exceptionally hard to come by, so I am delighted to see that they have been recognized, and thus encouraged, in their own award category.
Likewise, as a blog whose primary audience serves educators, seeing a specific category meant to honor the exceptional educational merits of a book is also very exciting. Finally, I am also thrilled to see so many sub-categories listed under the Design Awards section, including Best Cover Illustration, Best Latino Focused Book Design and Best Use of Illustrations Inside the Book. What I find fascinating about all of these sub-categories is that they assess the myriad ways in which a book’s illustrations can have an impact. When reading a picture book, it can be easy sometimes to forget how emotive the illustrations are, and how much of the story they tell, alongside the words.
I wanted to take the time now to highlight just a few of the award-winners. Med Medina’s moving children’s book, Mango, Abuela, and Me, which I reviewed last year, was listed as a finalist for Best Latino Focused Children’s Picture Book. As I wrote in my review, this book is a lovely tale about inter-generational relationships and how the power of love can transcend intercultural boundaries.
Other books I can’t help but mention include Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh and Growing Up Pedro by Matt Tavares, both listed for Best Children’s Nonfiction Picture Book. My Tata’s Remedies/Los remedios de mi tata, written by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford and illustrated by Antonio Castro, is listed for both Best Children’s Nonfiction Picture Book – Spanish or Bilingual and Best Educational Children’s Picture Book – Bilingual. All of these books were also recognized by some other Latin American book awards that I featured at the end of August, including the Pure Belpré Award, the Américas Award, and the Tomás Rivera Award. Given their many accolades, we couldn’t help but point them out to you again here.
Finally, we want to acknowledge the sponsors, hosts and creators of the awards. Again we draw from the award itself for our commendations: “The Awards are produced by Latino Literacy Now, an organization co-founded by Edward James Olmos and Kirk Whisler, and co-presented by Las Comadres de las Americas and Reforma, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos. Major sponsors include the California State University Dominguez.”
We encourage you all to check out some of these great books!
p.s. Note that our visual compilation of the titles by no means represents all of the winners of the award! Check out the complete list referenced above for this year’s recipients.