Pura Belpré Award: A Celebration of Outstanding Latino Children’s Literature

Dinorah Pinelo, Senior Librarian, Catalog,
book covers

The Pura Belpré Award recognizes outstanding works of literature for children and youth by Latino and Latina authors and illustrators that best represent and celebrate the Latino cultural experience. The award, established in 1996 by The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking (REFORMA), and conferred annually, is named after the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. This year's winners were announced last month.

Cuban-born author Ruth Behar received the Pura Belpré Author Award for Lucky Broken Girl, which is her first novel for young readers and is based on her experiences growing up in New York. This lyrical book centers on a young girl who recently arrived in the United States from Cuba and her struggle to recover from a terrible accident and make a home in a new country.

The Pura Belpré Illustration Award was presented to Peruvian-born Juana Martinez-Neal for La Princesa and the Pea. Martinez-Neal’s illustrations add cultural color to this classic tale with a Latino twist.

Check out this year’s winners and honorees.

2018 Pura Belpre Award Winners

Book cover for Lucky Broken Girl
Lucky Broken Girl
Behar, Ruth

In Lucky Broken Girl, fifth-grader Ruthie Mizrahi, newly arrived in the United States from Cuba in the 1960’s, is confined to a full-body cast after a life-changing accident. Surrounded by her Cuban-Jewish family and a diverse group of neighbors, Ruthie finds strength and courage to heal and grow.

Book cover for La Princesa and the Pea
La Princesa and the Pea
Elya, Susan Middleton

La Princesa and the Pea is a tale set amid guinea pigs, stone arches, and fuzzy indigenous Peruvian textiles. Juana Martinez-Neal’s mischievous characters play out the classic princess-and-the-pea tale—with a twist. Cultural elements inspired by the Peruvian village of Huilloc and the Colca Canyon add vibrancy and playfulness in Martinez-Neal’s acrylic and colored pencil illustrations.

2018 Author Honor Books

Book cover for The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
Cartaya, Pablo

In The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, Arturo spends the summer working at his beloved Abuela’s Cuban restaurant in a Miami neighborhood. When Arturo learns of a greedy land developer’s plans to tear down the building, he enlists the help of his friends to save the restaurant. This humorous coming-of-age tale celebrates family, music, and poetry, and embraces failure as a springboard to growth.

Book cover for The First Rule of Punk
The First Rule of Punk
Pérez, Celia C.

12-year-old Malú O’Neill-Morales is biracial, Latinx, and punk. Tasked with being a “señorita,” she instead follows the first rule of punk: “Be Yourself.” Malú creates zines about her inner thoughts while navigating a new school where she’s not seen as Latinx enough, starting a punk band along the way.

2018 Illustrator Honor Books

Book cover for All Around Us
All Around Us
Gonzalez, Xelena

The cycle of life is explored through the eyes of a grandfather and his granddaughter, in the Mestizo tradition. Vivid digital images use colorful contours and vibrant color to depict visible and invisible circles in everyday life.

Book cover for Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos
Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos
Brown, Monica

The connections between Frida Kahlo and her xoloitzcuintles, monkeys, turkeys, and other pets are palpable in John Parra’s warm, expressive acrylic illustrations. Details of Mexican folk art ground the story as facial and body expressions from Frida and animalitos reinforce their relationship, showing how Frida was comforted and inspired by her pets and how her personality was shaped by and reflected in them.

Award-winning titles in Spanish for past years are available here.