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Book Award Winners

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2017 Award Winners

Maybe Something Beautiful
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Works For Younger Readers -
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood
by Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, Illustrated by Rafael López

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood is the triumph of a community against the darker forces of social decay. What good can a splash of color do in a community of gray? As Mira and her neighbors discover, more than you might ever imagine!

Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California, Maybe Something Beautiful reveals how art can inspire transformation—and how even the smallest artists can accomplish something big. 

2017 Award Winner
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Works For Older Readers -
The Memory of Light
by Francisco X. Stork
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

In The Memory of Light, Stork tells the story of 16-year-old Vicky Cruz and her experiences and recovery after an attempted suicide. When Vicky wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn't be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she's never had. But Vicky's newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up, sending Vick back to the life that drove her to suicide, she must try to find her own courage and strength.

Inspired in part by the author's own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one - about living when life doesn't seem worth it, and how we go on anyway.

2016 Award Winners

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Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras

Duncan Tonatiuh’s Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras introduces readers to the art of ‘calaveras’, the playful skeletons popularized by the Mexican graphic artist Jose Guadalupe Posada at the turn of the twentieth century. Using hand-drawn and digitally collaged illustrations, Tonatiuh infuses Posada’s original art work with his own, resulting in a unique biography and information book that conveys the social and creative structures at work in the creation of the artwork used during the annual celebration of El día de los muertos. It also explores the way Posada designed special calaveras to comment on the social and political conditions of his time. “The extensive background information and resources support the readers’ understanding of the technical, social, and cultural contexts of Posada’s artwork,” says Denise Dávila, a national committee member of the Tomás Rivera Children and Young Adult Award. Readers of all ages are sure to appreciate this important biography.

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Works for Older Readers: Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez. Carolrhoda LAB

Pérez’s historical fiction explores the devastating consequences of racism in the context of the worst school disaster in U.S. history. Set in New London, Texas in 1936 when oil drilling created new jobs, commerce, and a new school, we see a community reckoning with a legacy of tripartite segregation among White, Black, and Mexican families. When seventeen-year old Naomi arrives to this community from San Antonio, we feel her pride in being Mexican, her commitment to protect her younger twin brother and sister, Cari and Beto, and her fears as she encounters racist and sexual violence from school peers, shopkeepers, church goers, and her step-father, Henry, who is White. Naomi’s isolated life is transformed, however, when she falls in love with Wash, a young Black man who knows the lines drawn by racial hatred as well as the dreams that might flourish through family, love, community, and education. As Naomi and Wash’s love grows, so too do the pressures to conform to gendered and racial codes. In third person prose, alternating among the perspectives of Naomi, Wash, Henry, the twins, and ‘The Gang’ of White high school students, Pérez illuminates the contours of love and hate within a family and across a community.

Previous Award Winners