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Book Award Winners

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2019 Award Winners

They Call me Guero by David Bowles

Works For Younger Readers
They Call Me Guero
by: David Bowles


Twelve-year old Güero is Mexican American, at home with Spanish or English and on both sides of the river. He’s starting 7th grade with a woke English teacher who knows how to make poetry cool.


In Spanish, “Güero” is a nickname for guys with pale skin, Latino or Anglo. But make no mistake: our red-headed, freckled hero is puro mexicano, like Canelo Álvarez, the Mexican boxer. Güero is also a nerd—reader, gamer, musician—who runs with a squad of misfits like him, Los Bobbys. Sure, they get in trouble like anybody else, and like other middle-school boys, they discover girls. Watch out for Joanna! She’s tough as nails.


But trusting in his family’s traditions, his accordion and his bookworm squad, he faces seventh grade with book smarts and a big heart.

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Works For Younger Readers
by: Yuyi Morales


In 1994, Yuyi Morales left her home in Xalapa, Mexico and came to the US with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn’t come empty-handed.

She brought her strength, her work, her passion, her hopes and dreams…and her stories. Caldecott Honor artist and five-time Pura Belpré winner Yuyi Morales’s gorgeous new picture book Dreamers is about making a home in a new place. Yuyi and her son Kelly’s passage was not easy, and Yuyi spoke no English whatsoever at the time. But together, they found an unexpected, unbelievable place: the public library. There, book by book, they untangled the language of this strange new land, and learned to make their home within it.

Dreamers is a celebration of what migrantes bring with them when they leave their homes. It’s a story about family. And it’s a story to remind us that we are all dreamers, bringing our own gifts wherever we roam. Beautiful and powerful at any time but given particular urgency as the status of our own Dreamers becomes uncertain, this is a story that is both topical and timeless.

The lyrical text is complemented by sumptuously detailed illustrations, rich in symbolism. Also included are a brief autobiographical essay about Yuyi’s own experience, a list of books that inspired her (and still do), and a description of the beautiful images, textures, and mementos she used to create this book.

A parallel Spanish-language edition, Soñadores, is also available.



2018 Award Winners

All Around Us

Works For Younger Readers
All Around Us
by: Xelena González, Illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia

Grandpa says circles are all around us. He points to the rainbow that rises high in the sky after a thundercloud has come. “Can you see? That’s only half of the circle. That rest of it is down below, in the earth.” He and his granddaughter meditate on gardens and seeds, on circles seen and unseen, inside and outside us, on where our bodies come from and where they return to. They share and create family traditions in this stunning exploration of the cycles of life and nature.

First Rule of Punk

Works For Older Readers - Middle Grade Category
The First Rule of Punk
by: Celia C. Pérez

The First Rule of Punk, is a wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, finding your place, and learning to rock out like no one’s watching.

There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school—you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.

The real Malú loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malú finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

Works For Older Readers - Young Adult Category
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
by: Erika L. Sánchez

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?



2017 Award Winners

Maybe Something Beautiful
Click the image above for more information about the book and authors

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
Click the image above for more information about the book and author

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.

Click the image above for more information about the book and author

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