February 04, 2000


Carmen Lomas Garza, Alma Flor Ada win Pura Belpré Awards

Carmen Lomas Garza, illustrator and author of "Magic Windows: Cut-paper Art and Stories," published by Children's Book Press, and Alma Flor Ada, author of "Under the Royal Palms. A Childhood in Cuba," published by Atheneum Books, are the 2000 winners of the Pura Belpré Awards honoring Latino writers and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in a children's book. The awards were announced January 17 during the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in San Antonio.



Alma Flor Ada

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 Services to the Spanish Speaking.

Using the traditional folk art form of papel picado, cut-paper art, Garza, the recipient of the award for illustration, reveals her Mexican heritage and life in Texas in "Magic Windows: Cut-Paper Art and Stories," a bilingual book in Spanish and English edited by David Schecter. Past and present cultures and generations are connected through 15 intricately crafted cutouts, each formed from a single piece of paper.

Garza, born in Kingsville, Texas near the Mexico border, is the award-winning author and illustrator of "Family Pictures" and "In My Family." She has bachelor's degrees in art and education. Garza's artwork has been on display in numerous museums including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

In a heartwarming and loving portrayal of her childhood days in Cuba, Ada describes her deep friendship with a beloved dance teacher in "Under the Royal Palms." Readers meet relatives and share the tragedy of the loss of Ada's beloved uncle. Photographs enhance the diary-like portrayal of Ada's early years.

"This collection, a companion volume to Ada's `Where the Flame Trees Bloom,' encourages children to discover the stories in their own lives and to celebrate the joys and struggles we all share no matter where or when we grew up," said Yolanda Bonitch, chair of the Pura Belpré Award Selection Committee.

Born in Camaguey, Cuba, Ada, is professor of multicultural education at the University of San Francisco. She is a renowned author, translator, scholar, educator, storyteller and advocate for bilingual and muticultural education. Ada received a bachelor's degree from Universidad Central de Madrid in Spain and a master's degree and doctorate from Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru.

Three Honor books for illustration were named: "Barrio: José's Neighborhood," illustrated and written by George Ancona, published by Harcourt Brace; "The Secret Stars," illustrated by Felipe Dávalos, written by Joseph Slate, published by Marshall Cavendish; and "Mama & Papa Have a Store," illustrated and written by Amelia Lau Carling, published by Dial Books.

"Barrio: José's Neighborhood" is about a year in the life of a Mexican American boy from "El Barrio" in the Mission District of San Francisco. The book portrays a vibrant culture of diversity, history and celebration.

Ancona, of Santa Fe, N.M., is the award-winning illustrator of more than 70 books for children and author of many of the same books.

In a story set in New Mexico capturing the anticipation of a visit from the Three Kings, "The Secret Stars" tells the story of two children who worry that the Kings will not find them. Dávalos has created, through skillful use of acrylics, an exquisite work of art.

Dávalos, of Sacramento, Calif., has been illustrating children's books since 1972 in the U.S, and Mexico. He was awarded the first Ezra Jack Keats Award from the International Board on Books for Young People, UNIDEF, in 1986.

The youngest child in a Chinese family that has emigrated to Guatemala, Carling brings us into her home, which is also her parents' store in "Mama & Papa Have a Store." Her reminiscences give insights into Chinese, Spanish and Guatemalan cultures. Done in watercolor and gouache, the illustrations gently explode with bright colors - plants, food, drink, fabric and landscape.

Born in Guatemala, Carling now lives in Westchester County, N.Y. She is art director for a New York Children's book publisher. "Mama & Papa Have a Store," the recipient of the 1998 Americas Award for outstanding presentations of Latino information within a picture story is the first book Carling has written and illustrated. Two Author Award Honor Books were named: "From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems/Del Ombligo de la Luna y Otros Poemas de Verano" by Francisco X. Alarcón, illustrated by Maya Christina González, published by Child-ren's Book Press; and "Laughing Out Loud, I Fly: Poems in English and Spanish" by Juan Felipe Herrera, illustrated by Karen Barbour, published by Harper Collins.

Brimming with sights, sounds and memories, "From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems," is a bilingual collection of summertime poetry that celebrates the author's vacations with relatives in Mexico.

Alarcón, who lives and teaches in Davis, Calif., is an award-winning poet and educator. He is the author of eight collections of poetry. Alarcón's first book of poetry for children, "Laughing Tomatoes and Other Spring Poems" received the National Parenting Publication's Gold Award and a Pura Belpré Honor Award. "From the Bellybutton of the Moon and Other Summer Poems" is on the 1998 Américas Commended List.

Herrera's poems in "Laughing Out Loud, I Fly" create a bicultural experience full of flavors and intense feelings that carries readers into a rhythm of laughter. According to Bonitch, the text has rich poetic language and the images are full of vivid concepts with playful, but serious, poems.

Herrera is an actor, musician and professor at California State University at Fresno. He has degrees in social anthropology from Stanford University and the University of California at Los Angeles.

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