Wednesday, July 08, 2015

2015 Pura Belpré Award Speeches

The Pura Belpré Award was established in 1996 and honors Latino writers and illustrators whose works of art best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience in a book for children. It is named for the first Latina librarian who distinguished herself for her storytelling and outreach work with children and their families while working for the New York Public Library during the first decade of the twentieth century.

To read the complete speeches visit,

Los Ganadores

Picture cortesía de Oralia Garza de Córtes

Marjorie Agosín received the 2015 Pura Belpré Author Award for I Lived on Butterfly Hill, illustrated by Lee White (Atheneum/Simon & Schuster).

“Abuela Frida used to say that there are no coincidences and that the universe weaves its luminous magic. I am honored to be here and to receive the Pura Belpré award in Valparaíso sister city, San Francisco—where the hills are as whimsical as the ones of Valparaíso and where elegant cable cars run up and down this welcoming and beautiful metropolis. I am sure Celeste Marconi would have found joy wandering the many hills of San Francisco and getting lost in its mist and fog.”


Juan Felipe Herrera received the 2015 Pura Belpré Author Honor for Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes illustrated by Raúl Colón (Dial /Penguin).

“Let me thank the heroes who are in-between the colors and lines of Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes. First of all, the Pura Belpré Award Committee, Lucia Monfried, tireless and generous editor of Dial books for young audiences, also REFORMA who cosponsored the award with ALSC, Kendra Marcus, my patient agent, Raúl Colón, a genius artist, who with his multiple layers of hues called on the unique spirit of every countenance, and, without doubt, Margarita Robles, my partner, for her guidance and boundless support, my son, Joshua, who examined every line. I am honored to receive the 2015 Author Honor Book Award.”


Yuyi Morales received the 2015 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award for Viva Frida (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook).

“I want to congratulate you. I don’t know if you have heard, but you won the 2015 Pura Belpré Award. You did! And we are here to celebrate it. Certainly my fellow authors and illustrators and I are the ones who get to climb the podium and get our pictures taken, and we even give the speeches, but we are just a little part of what you all have created. You are the ones who have been suggesting, insisting, demanding a more diverse body of children’s literature. You are the Oralias and Sandras of this world, who could take it no more when the only multicultural books you found on shelves were riddled with inaccuracies and stereotypes, and who worked hard to establish awards like this with the mission to see cultural truths flourish. It has been you who asked that in books we find the voices that are seldom heard. It has been you who shared books such as the ones we are recognizing today, not only with passion but also with orgullo, with pride."


Susan Guevara received a 2015 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor for Little Roja Riding Hood, written by Susan Middleton Elya (GP Putnam’s Sons/Penguin).

"Thank you to the Pura Belpré Committee for this important recognition for illustrating Little Roja Riding Hood. It reminds me of what you taught me many years ago; you showed me the responsibility I have as a bookmaker to be completely honest and unflinching in drawing what I know to be true. Thank you too, to my agent, Kendra Marcus, for suggesting to Putnam that I be the illustrator for Susan Elya’s Little Roja Riding Hood. Thank you, Susan Elya, for your fine sensibilities with rhyme and Spanglish. The wacky unpredictable word, “Telenovelas” gave Little Roja’s Abuela her romance-writing career."


John Parra received a 2015 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor for Green Is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors, written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong (Chronicle).

"Colors are everywhere! They are image. They are emotion. They are energy. Color is diversity. Color is life. Color is sacred. I see colors celebrated in countless stories and poems about glorious sunsets and striking far off landscapes. They are the kaleidoscope of vegetables, fruits, and spices, as bountiful flavors are prepared and cooked in Abuela’s kitchen. They are seen splashed about in an infinite array of painted murals as directed from an artist’s creative eye. They are the vibrancy of piñatas, ribbons, and banners at children’s birthday parties. They are the details in the costumes worn by performers at Folklorico dances. They are the whispered, tender words of love used to describe a companion’s eyes, skin, and hair. They are felt, through music, ideas, and memories. They are for all peoples and backgrounds. Color is everywhere...and I love color!"


Duncan Tonatiuh received a 2015 Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor for Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation (Abrams).

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