Wednesday, May 08, 2024

Do I Belong Here? ¿Es este mi lugar? received the 2024 Paterson Prize for Young People

I am so happy to share the news that Do I Belong Here? ¿Es este mi lugar? received the 2024 Paterson Prize for Young People in the category of Grades Pre K-3. The award is given by the Poetry Center at PCCC, Passaic County Community College, in New Jersey. 

The Book Ted Kooser: More Than a Local Wonder written by Carla Ketner and published by University of Nebraska Press also received the award in the category of Grades Pre K-3. . 

To find the winners in all the different categories, click this link


An immigrant boy stands “in the middle of a whirlwind of children,” and wonders where he is supposed to go. Finally, a woman speaks to him in a language he doesn’t understand and takes him to his classroom. A boy named Carlos helps orient him, but later when he reads aloud, everyone laughs at him. And when he gets an “F” on an assignment, he is sure “I do not belong here.”  


But gradually the boy begins to learn English. He works hard. He always pays attention, finishes his homework and—most importantly—never gives up. He begins to recognize words. “I understand now. Open is abrir, books are libros and page is página.”  And when the kids invite him to play soccer, he thinks, “Maybe I belong here.” As the boy’s grades improve and he make friends, he realizes, “I belong here.” And when he sees a girl looking lost, sure she doesn’t belong, he can say with certainty: “Not yet. But you will.”  


Award-winning children’s book author René Colato Laínez teams up again with illustrator Fabricio Vanden Broeck to explore the experiences of newcomers in schools and affirm that yes! They do belong. With beautiful acrylic-on-wood illustrations depicting children at school, this bilingual kids’ book by a Salvadoran immigrant tells an important story that will resonate with all kids who want nothing more than to belong.  


“VERDICT: A bilingual text that offers an empathetic look at how immigrant children start to learn little by little, and adapt to their surroundings and friends. Recommended for all shelves.”—School Library Journal (starred review)


RENÉ COLATO LAÍNEZ is the author of numerous picture books for children, including My Shoes and I / Mis zapatos y yo (Piñata Books, 2019), Mamá the Alien / Mamá la extraterrestre (Lee & Low Books, 2016), From North to South / Del norte al sur (Children’s Book Press, 2013), René Has Two Last Names / René tiene dos apellidos (Arte Público Press, 2009) and I Am René, the Boy / Soy René, el niño (Arte Público Press, 2005). He is an elementary school teacher in Los Angeles, California.


FABRICIO VANDEN BROECK is a designer, illustrator, painter and professor of design at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Azcapotzalco in Mexico City. He illustrated My Shoes and I / Mis zapatos y yo (Piñata Books, 2019).


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