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The Américas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature is given in recognition of U.S. works of fiction, poetry, folklore, or selected non-fiction (from picture books to works for young adults) published in the previous year in English or Spanish that authentically and engagingly portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States. By combining both and linking the Americas, the award reaches beyond geographic borders, as well as multicultural-international boundaries, focusing instead upon cultural heritages within the hemisphere. The award is sponsored by the national Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP).

The award winners and commended titles are selected for their:1) distinctive literary quality2) culturalcontextualization 3) exceptional integration of text, illustration and design; and 4) potential for classroom use.

Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book Cover2009 Américas Award Winners


Just in Case:  A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book
by Yuyi Morales.  Roaring Brook Press (A Neal Porter Book), 2008.   32 pgs.  ISBN 978-1-59643-329-8       

Yuyi Morales takes us on a new journey with Señor Calvera, the skeleton from Day of the Dead celebrations. Señor Calvera is worried. He cant figure out what to give Grandma Beetle for her birthday. Misunderstanding the advice of Zelmiro the Ghost, Señor Calvera decides not to get her one gift, but instead one gift for every letter of the alphabet, just in case. (read more) The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom Cover

The Surrender Tree:  Poems of  Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle.  Holt, 2008.  169 pgs.  ISBN 978-0-8050-8674-4

It is 1896. Cuba has fought three wars for independence and still is not tree. People have been rounded up in reconcentration camps with too little food and too much illness. Rosa is a nurse, but she dares not go to the camps. So she turns hidden caves into hospitals for those who know how to find her.

Black, white, Cuban, SpanishRosa does her best for everyone. Yet who can heal a country so torn apart by war? Acclaimed poet Margarita Engle has created another breathtaking portrait of Cuba.

Américas Award Honorable Mentions

dark_dude_coverThe Best Gift of All:  The Legend of La Vieja Belén / El Mejor Regalo del Mundo:  La Leyenda de la Vieja Belén by Julia Alvarez.  Illustrated by Ruddy Nuñez.  Alfaguara/Santillana, 2008. 32 pgs.  ISBN 978-1-60396-325-1

Dark Dude by Oscar Hijuelos.   Atheneum, 2008.  440 pgs.      978-1-4169-4804-9

The Storyteller's Candle / La velita de los cuentos by Lucía González.  Illustrated by Lulu Delacre.  Children's Book Press, 2008.   32 pgs.  ISBN 978-0-89239-222-3     

Américas Award Commended Titles

Animal Poems of the Iguazú/Animalario del Iguazú by Francisco X. Alarcón.  Illustrated by Maya Christina González.  Children's Book Press, 2008.   32 pgs.  ISBN 978-0-89239-225-4      

Presented in both English and Spanish, this lively poetry collection features the endangered flora and fauna of the Iguaz rain forest in Argentina, and addresses environmental issues in a fun, engaging way. Full color. 

Arco Iris de Poesía:  Poemas de las Américas y España selected by Sergio Andricaín.  Illustrated by Olga Cuellar. Lectorum, 2008.  40pgs.  ISBN 978-1-930332-59-1

Baila, Nana, Baila / Dance, Nana, Dance:  Cuban Folktales in English and dance_nana_danceSpanish retold by Joe Hayes.  Illustrated by Mauricio Trenard Sayago.  Cinco Puntos, 2008.  128 pgs.  ISBN 978-1-933693-17-0 

If you travel to Cuba, the people will greet you with a smile. Right away they'll want you to come to their home and eat a meal. In the meal, you'll find a mixture of foods and flavors from Spain and Africa-and from many Caribbean cultures as well. In Cuban folktales, you will taste the same delicious mixture of flavors. (read more)

Cesar Chavez:  Crusader for Social Change by Brenda Haugen.  Compass Point, 2008.  112 pgs.  978-0-7565-3321-2   

Growing up in a family of migrant farm workers, Cesar Chavez saw the poor working conditions farm laborers faced firsthand. As an adult, Chavez worked to improve the lives of farm workers who often had limited resources and struggled to provide for their families. His lifes work as a civil rights leader helped countless laborers as he led them in peaceful work strikes and boycotts.     (read more)  

The Disappeared by Gloria Whelan.        Dial / Penguin, 2008.            136 pgs.  978-0-8037-3275-9

The Disappeared. Los desaparecidos. This is the name given to those who opposed Argentina's dictatorial government and were kidnapped to ensure their silence. With her hometown of Buenos Aires ensconsced in the political nightmare, Silvia devises a plan to save her missing brother. She'll make Norberto, son of the general who arrests dissenters, fall in love with her ∧ he'll have his father set Eduardo free. (read more)

divali_rose_coverDivali Rose by Vashanti Rahaman.  Illustrated by Jamel Akib.  Boyds Mills, 2008.  32 pgs.

Ricki is looking forward to Divali, the Hindu Festival of Lights. Hes also waiting for two special rosebuds to bloom. The buds are on the bush that his grandfather had planted in the front yard. His grandfather promises that the roses will be the color of Divali. (read more)

Dolores Huerta:  Labor Leader and Civil Rights Activist by Robin S. Doak.   Compass Point, 2008.  112 pgs.  978-0-7565-3477-6 (read more)

Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole.  HarperCollins, 2008.  351 pgs.  978-0-06-084311-3

Here's what it means to be a tortillera. It means you're a girl who loves girls.

Which means you get kicked out of Catholic school faster than Mother Superior Sicko can say "immoral." Which means your wacko Mami finds out. Which means you're kicked to the curb with nowhere to go, and the love of your life is shipped off to Puerto Rico to marry a guy. (read more)

Facts of Life by Gary Soto.  Harcourt, 2008.        174 pgs.  978-0-15-206181-4

What do Gaby Lopez, Michael Robles, and Cynthia Rodriguez have in common? These three kids join other teens and tweens in Gary Soto's new short story collection, in which the hard-knock facts of growing up are captured with humor and poignance

He Forgot to Say Goodbye by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.  Simon & Schuster, 2008.  321 pgs.  978-1-4169-4963-3

Ramiro Lopez and Jake Upthegrove don't appear to have much in common. Ram lives in the Mexican-American working-class barrio of El Paso called "Dizzy Land." His brother is sinking into a world of drugs, wreaking havoc in their household. Jake is a rich West Side white boy who has developed a problem managing his anger. (read more)

Kitchen Dance by Maurie J.  Manning.  Clarion. 2008.  32 pgs.  ISBN 978-0-618-9Kitchen Dance Cover9110-5

A little girl wakes in the night to mysterious, inviting noises. She rouses her brother, and they sneak downstairs and peek into the kitchen. To their amazement and delight, their parents are dancing and singing---"?Como te quiero! Oh, how I love you!" ---as they clean up and put food away. Mama and Papa discover the two kids and sweep them into the embrace of a family dance. Slowly, the song changes to a lullaby. . . the children close sleepy eyes. . . then Mama and Papa tuck them into bed again (read more)

Pablo (Cuando los Grandes Eran Pequeños) by Georgina Lázaro.  Illustrated by Marcela Donoso.  Lectorum, 2008.  32 pgs.  ISBN 978-1-930332-09-2                       

Peace Jam:  A Billion Simple Acts of Peace  by Ivan Suvanjieff and Dawn Gifford Engle.   Puffin/Penguin, 2008.  197 pgs.  ISBN 978-0-14-241234-3   

Peacejam: A Billion Simple Acts of Peace CoverThe Dalai Lama, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Costa Rican president Oscar Arias and political rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi are just some of the Nobel Peace Laureates who have joined the PeaceJam Foundation in their Global Call to Action. This book profiles all of these laureates and their work with teens around the world as they combine forces to help stop the spread of disease, promote womenas rights, provide equitable access to food and water, and more (read more)                                   

A Perfect Season for Dreaming / Un tiempo perfecto para soñar by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.  Illustrated by Esau Andrade Valencia.  Cinco Puntos, 2008.   36 pgs.  ISBN 978-1-933693-01-9 

Ninety-two-year-old Octavio Rivera is a beautiful dreamer. And lately he has been visited by some very interesting dreams—dreams about piñatas that spill their treasures before him, revealing kissing turtles, winged pigs, hitchhiking armadillos and many more fantastic things! Octavio doesn’t tell anyone about his dreams except his young granddaughter Regina because she alone understands beautiful and fantastic dreams. (read more)

Reaching Out by Francisco Jiménez.      Houghton Mifflin, 2008.  194 pgs.  978-0-618-03851-0

From the perspective of the young adult he was then, Francisco Jiménez describes the challenges he faced in his efforts to continue his education.

During his college years, the very family solidarity that allowed Francisco to survive as a child is tested. Not only must he leave his family behind when he goes to Santa Clara University, but while Francisco is there, his father abandons the family and returns to Mexico. This is the story of how Francisco coped with poverty, (read more)

The Secret Legacy by Rigoberta Menchú.  Illustrated by Domi.  Groundwood, 2008. The Secret Legacy Cover 64 pgs.  ISBN 978-0-88899-896-5  

Rigoberta Menchu returns to the world of childhood in this, her third book. The novel’s seven-year-old heroine, Ixkem, is chosen to tend to the prized cornfields once her grandfather has passed away. But Ixkem isn’t sure she can accept this great responsibility. Out in the fields, she discovers a legion of tiny people, no bigger than bananas. They are b’e’n, nahuales — secret animal spirits — and when they take Ixkem into the underworld where they live, she regales them   (read more)                    

The Smell of Old Lady Perfume by Claudia Guadalupe Martínez.  Cinco Puntos, 2008.  249 pgs.  978-1-933693-18-7

Claudia Guadalupe Martinez's debut novel for young adults is a bittersweet story about death, family, and the resilient emotional strength of the human heart. Chela Gonzalez, the book's narrator, is a nerd and a soccer player who can barely contain her excitement about starting the sixth grade. (read more)

Voices in First Person Voices in First Person: Reflections on Latino Identity Reflections on Latino Identity CoverVoices in First Person: Reflections on Latino Identity  by Lori Marie Carlson.   Photographs by Manuel Rivera-Ortiz.  Illustrated by Flavio Morais.  Atheneum, 2008.  84 pgs.  ISBN 978-1-4169-0635-3    

This eclectic, gritty, and groundbreaking collection of short monologues features twenty-one of the most respected Latino authors writing today, including Sandra Cisneros, Oscar Hijuelos, Esmeralda Santiago, and Gary Soto. Their fictional narratives give voice to what it's like to be a Latino teen in America. These voices are yearning. These voices are angry. Thesevoices are, above all else, hopeful. These voices are America. (read more)

The Walls of Cartagena by Julia Durango.  Illustrated by Tom Pohrt.  Simon & Schuster, 2008.  150 pgs.   978-1-4169-4102-6

Calepino was blessed with good fortune. After his mother died giving birth to him on a slave ship, he was taken in by a wealthy woman who gave him every advantage. Then on his thirteenth birthday, Father Pedro, a devout priest, asks Calepino to assist him with the slaves coming into Cartagena. Soon he's fighting seasickness, living in squalor, and cursing every minute. That all begins to change when he meets Mara and Tomi, a mother and son who remind him of his own past (read more)

What Can You Do with a Rebozo?/Que Puede Hacer Con Un Rebozo? CoverWhat Can You Do With a Rebozo? by Carmen Tafolla.  Illustrated by Amy Córdova.  Tricycle Press, 2008.   28 pgs.  ISBN 978-1-58246-220-2 

A cradle for baby, a superhero's cape, a warm blanket on a cool night--there are so many things you can do with a rebozo. Through the eyes of a young girl, readers are introduced to the traditional shawl found in many Mexican and Mexican-American households.

Now in an English/Spanish bilingual edition, the lively rhyme and brightly-colored illustrations of the original are available to a whole new audience.

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