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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: margarita engle, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 29
1. Lee Bennett Hopkins – Poet Interview for National Poetry Month

  April is National Poetry month so to spice up my interviews I decided to talk to internationally renowned poet and anthologist, Lee Bennett Hopkins.  In 1989 he received the University of Southern Mississippi Medallion for “outstanding contributions to the field of children’s … Continue reading

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2. Free Samples of ‘The Walter’ Winning and Honor Books

We Need Diverse BooksThe We Need Diverse Books organization has revealed the winning and honor books for the inaugural Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature. This prize, named after the late Walter Dean Myers, has also become known as “The Walter.”

All American Boys, a young adult novel written by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, was named the winner. Enchanted Air, a poetic memoir written by Margarita Engle, and X, a novel written by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon, were both named honor titles. We’ve linked to free samples of all the recognized books below.

Here’s more from the We Need Diverse Books blog post: “The Judges Panel reviewed titles published during the 2015 calendar year by diverse authors whose work featured a diverse main character or addressed diversity in a meaningful way. In the case of author pairs (or author-illustrator pairs), at least one member of the pair must be from an underrepresented community. The books covered many genres and included both fiction and nonfiction works. The award’s mission is to honor the memory of Walter Dean Myers and his literary heritage, as well as celebrate diversity in teen literature.”

Free Samples of The Walter Winner and Honor Books

Winner: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely

Honor: Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings by Margarita Engle

Honor: X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz & Kekla Magoon

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3. Joy Chu – Illustrator Interview

I ‘met’ Joy a couple of years ago through her FB page Got Story and love her contributions to the kid lit community. She has been curating a fabulous exhibition in Southern California and it is open for another ten … Continue reading

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4. WaterBridge Outreach Books Selection 2015


Logo: WaterBridge Outreach: Books + Water

WaterBridge Outreach: Books + Water recently announced the books in English they have selected this year for donation to the different schools and libraries they support around the world.  WaterBridge Outreach is a non-profit that seeks … Continue reading ...

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5. #793 – Orangutanka: A Story in Poems by Margarita Engle & Renée Kurilla

LAST DAY! $50 Gift Certificate Holiday Giveaway Enter here:   Mudpuppy Holiday Giveaway  . Orangutanka: A Story in Poems Written by Margarita Engle Illustrations by Renée Kurilla Henry Holt & Company     3/24/2015 978-0-8050-9839-6 32 pages     Ages 4—8 “All the orangutans are ready for a nap in the sleepy depths of the afternoon . …

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6. Winners Announced for the 2015 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature

APALA (GalleyCat)The Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) has revealed the winners of the 2015 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature (APAAL).

According to the press release, the organization aims to “promote Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage” and recognize “titles published from October 2014 to September 2015 based on their literary and artistic merit” with these awards.

Below, we’ve collected free samples of many of the honored works for your reading pleasure.

Adult Fiction

Winner: Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Honor: Don’t Let Him Know by Sandip Roy

Adult Non-Fiction

Winner: The Making of Asian America by Erika Lee

Honor: Canton Restaurant to Panda Express by Haiming Liu

Honor: The Good Immigrant: How the Yellow Peril Became the Model Minority by Madilyn Y. Hsu

Young Adult

Winner: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

Honor: Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani

Children’s Books

Winner: Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

Honor: Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly

Picture Books

Winner: Juna’s Jar by Jane Bahk

Honor: Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael Lopez

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7. Poetry Friday: The Wild Book

The Wild Book Margarita Engle

Homework Fear

The teacher at school
smiles, but she's too busy
to give me extra help,
so later, at home,
Mama tries to teach me.

She reminds me
to go oh-so-slowly
and take my time.
There is no hurry.
THe heavy book
will not rise up
and fly away.

When I scramble the sneaky letters
b and d, or the even trickier ones
r and l, Mama helps me learn
how to picture
the sep--a--rate
of each mys--te--ri--ous
Still, it's not easy
to go so
S l o w l y.

I have to keep
warning myself
over and over
that whenever I try
to read too quickly,
my clumsy patience
flips over
and tumbles,
then falls...


The doctor hisses Fefa's diagnosis like a curse-- word blindness*. She'll never read, or write. It's why she hates school so much, why the other kids taunt her when she has to read OUT LOUD.

But Fefa's mother has the heart of poet and doesn't accept the prognosis. She gives Fefa a blank book (one of the most terrifying things Fefa has seen) for her to fill with words as she gets them, slowly.

Fefa deals with the bullying and taunts of her classmates and siblings and slowly fills her book and slowly learns to detangle the letters.

Y'all know I'm a huge Engle fan. I'm most familiar with her YA stuff, but this one is more middle grade. There's a lot less politics and history**, as the main focus is Fefa's struggle with the written word. It's based on Engle's own grandmother and the stories she told of her own struggle with dyslexia.

Of course, one of the things that I like so much about Engle is how she weaves stories around Cuban history, so this wasn't my favorite one of hers. Also, there's only one narrator, while I'm used to her work being told in multiple voices. THAT SAID, it's still really good.

I like how Engle works with free verse and structure in this one to really capture Fefa's voice, especially when sounding words out and trying to figure out syllables. It's one that younger readers will enjoy and will cause them to seek out more of her work.

Today's Poetry Friday Round-up is over at... A Teaching Life. Be sure to check it out!

*Apparently, this is actually what they used to call dyslexia.

**Although it is set in 1912 Cuba and there is still some historical drama, it's just not the focus like it is in her other work.

Book Provided by... my local library

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8. review: Silver People

silvertitle: Silver People

author: Margarita Engle

date: HMH Children’s Books; March 2013

main character: Mateo

Strange as it seems, the ‘globalization’ of international trade did not begin with the Internet but was launched a century ago when a new waterway suddenly made the world seem small.” This line ends Silver People, the story of the workers who built the Panama Canal in which Margarita Engle combines the voices of workers from Cuba, Panama, Jamaica and the United States to tell the story of the conditions in which the Canal was built. From the very beginning of the story, readers are aware of the differing treatment people received that took into account details such as skin tone, country of origin and gender. Although perpetuated by the Whites in power, this racism is so institutionalized that not even they can alter this system. They’re also aware of the culture of the Panamanian people and the flora and fauna of the country.

The story begins in 1906 when young Mateo is recruited from his home in Cuba with the dream of high wages and a more satisfying life. In her trademark open verse style of writing, Engle deftly recreates the back-breaking hardships and the imposed racism that the work crews endured throughout the eight years it took to complete the project. She manages to capture the inhumanity of their treatment while at the same time realizing their character to the reader. And, she does this in a way that will neither overwhelm nor disturb young readers. Engle relates the story with gentle care and compassion by making this a story of Panama and not just the Canal. She literally brings the setting to life by giving voice to trees and monkeys. While the Canal was built to facilitate trade, the act of building it had a huge impact on the biodiversity of the region. Mateo meets Augusto and learns how to develop his artistic talents as they draw life forms found in the Panamanian rain forest.

Rich details trace the impact of non-indigenous footprints on the environment. I always enjoy Engle’s novels as they recreate less known people and places with well researched details. They’re layered in ways that each reader will truly have a unique experience with the book. While I focused on the harshness, others will wander through the jungle scenes with others will watch as relationships develop.

Engle’s other works include The Firefly Letters, Hurricane Dancers, The Wild Book and Mountain Dog.

Filed under: Book Reviews Tagged: latino, Margarita Engle, Panama, poetry, the Panama Canal

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9. 2014 Pura Belpré Medal Award Celebración

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a divison of the American Library Association, and REFORMA (the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate, ) hosted the Pura Belpré annual Celebración  to honor the 2014 medal and honor winners on Sunday, June 29, 2014 at Las Vegas, Nevada.

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.

Los Ganadores

From left to right  Meg Medina, Matt de la Peña, Margarita Engle, Yuyi Morales, Rafael López and Angela Dominguez

Palabras from Meg Medina winner of the 2014 Pura Belpré award from the novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.

"Buenas tardes a todos. Good afternoon. I just love hearing you say the title. It’s funny how books come to be. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass wasn’t supposed to be a novel. In fact, if it had been left up to me, the very idea for this book would have been left alone, dried out and harmless. It would have stayed one of those memories from childhood that was better left buried."

Palabras from Yuyi Morales winner of the 2014 Pura Belpré award from the picture book, Niño Wrestles the World. 

"I come from a great magnetic place of poetic beans, automatic cac- tuses, astral farmers, supersonic fire-eaters, cybernetic cowboy char- ros, and neon-colored serapes. It is actually called Mexico; I live there now. It is my great joy to come to my beloved country of work, from my beloved country of birth, to join this celebration of niños, niñas, reading, and books—this freedom to cross from one land to the other, I treasure in the name of all of those who don’t have it. And, yes, I would fly or walk or swim or cross a bridge to wherever a Pura Belpré celebration is happening, because what better company to have than you to celebrate not only this year’s awards, but also the 10th anniversary, diez años, of having received my first Pura Belpré Medal?"

You can find the complete 2014 Belpré Award acceptance speeches at http://www.ala.org/alsc/sites/ala.org.alsc/files/content/awardsgrants/bookmedia/belpre-14.pdf

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10. Pen Center USA Unveils 24th Annual Literary Award Winners

PEN Center USA has unveiled some of the winners of the 24th annual literary awards. Each writer will receive a one thousand dollar cash prize.

At this point in time, the Graphic Literature Award winner and the recipient of the organization’s Award of Honor have not yet been revealed. The group will be honored at the 24th annual literary awards festival. Check out the list of winners below.


New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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11. The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist, by Margarita Engle | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of The Sky Painter, by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Aliona Bereghici. Giveaway begins April 28, 2015, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends May 27, 2015, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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12. Five Family Favorites with Margarita Engle, Author of The Sky Painter: Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist

Margarita Engle, author of The Sky Painter, selected these five family favorite children's books.

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13. Keeping a Green Tree in your Heart: A Selection of Tree Poetry Books

Tree-Themed Multicultural Children's Poetry Books

To give the Chinese proverb in its entirety, ‘Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come’ – and to extend the metaphor (or revert it … Continue reading ...

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14. Guest Post by Maria Gianferrari, Author of Penny & Jelly The School Show

To follow on from my review of Penny & Jelly: The School Show last Friday, I am very happy to have the author, Maria Gianferrari on the blog today to share about the inspiration for her debut picture book and offer … Continue reading

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15. Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle

Daniel’s parents put all of their money into the boat passage to New York that was supposed to ensure his escape from Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, the boat full of refugees that Daniel is on has been turned away from both the Canadian and United States ports where they attempted to land. Cuba is their last chance or they will be forced to return to Germany. When Daniel is finally allowed into

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16. Margarita Engle Presents “Finding the Poetry in History”

hispanic heritage month Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with award-winning author Margarita Engle at the annual meeting of ANCA, the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature, located in Fresno, California.

On Friday, September 25, following a reception at 6:00 p.m., Margarita will deliver her presentation “Finding the Poetry in History”. ANCA president Denise Sciandra will then introduce a presentation of Jane Addams Award-winning books by community activist Ellie Bluestein. There is no admission charge for this event but you must make a reservation so click here for details.

Margarita is the Cuban-American author of three novels, written in free verse, for young people:

* The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano, which won the Pura Belpré Award, the Americas Award, and many other national awards;

* The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom, about a freed slave who treated the wounded from both sides in Cuba’s 19th-century struggle for independence; winner of the Pura Belpré Award, the Americas Award and the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and a 2009 Newbery Honor book;

* Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba, published in April 2009, and already winning rave reviews.

Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards are given annually to children’s books published the preceding year that effectively promote the cause of peace, social justice, world community, and the equality of the sexes and all races, as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence. Margarita’s book The Surrender Tree won this year’s award in the Books for Older Children category.

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17. Jane Addams Children’s Book Award 56th Annual Award Ceremony

The Jane Addams Peace Association and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom are pleased to announce that the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award 56th Annual Award Ceremony will be held on Friday, October 16th at 2:30 PM at the 777 United Nations Plaza (2nd Floor) in New York City, NY. This event is free and open to all. Reservations are not needed.

Join us for a memorable afternoon of award presentation and responses by authors and illustrators. Come meet and talk with the honored guests, including Award winner Margarita Engle and honorees Anne Laurel Carter, Lucía González, Lulu Delacre, Scott Reynolds Nelson, and Marc Aronson. Enjoy a reception and an opportunity for book signing after formal presentation of the awards. All the award books will be available for purchase.

The Award Winners:

Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola is the winner in the Books for Younger Children Category.

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle is the winner in the Books for Older Children Category.

The Honor Books:

Books for Younger Children:

The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos written by Lucía González and illustrated by Lulu Delacre

Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad written and illustrated by James Rumford

Books for Older Children:

The Shepherd’s Granddaughter by Anne Laurel Carter

Ain’t Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry by Scott Reynolds Nelson with Marc Aronson

For additional information about the Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards and a complete list of books honored since 1953, click here.

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18. Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba

tropical-secretsFor the month of September, we will continue to explore the topic of Refugees in children’s books. Today I would like to share a book I recently came across on the topic: Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Cuban-American poet Magarita Engle (Henry Holt & Co, 2009). This is the author’s third novel in verse about Cuba (the previous two were the award-winning The Poet Slave of Cuba and The Surrender Tree), and this time her story takes place during WWII, when when the rise of Nazism led to a severe rise in refugees from Germany trying to find safety in other parts of the world.

A historical note at the end (and readers may want to consider reading it before getting started), helps contextualize the story, which is told, mostly, in the alternating voices of Daniel, a 13 year-old German Jewish who escapes Germany in 1939 after being separated from his parents, and whose ship is finally allowed entry in Cuba after being turned away from the U.S. and Canada; and Paloma, a 12 year-old girl who, unbeknownst to her father, is helping refugees. We also get to “hear” accounts of the refugees situation by two adults: El Gordo, Paloma’s father, who is making money by selling entry permits to refugees; and David, a former refugee who, along with others, such as young Paloma, helps shelter and feed the recently arrived refugees.

It seems Cuba is no safe haven, though, as the same boats that bring those “searching for something as simple as hope”, are also bringing Nazi agents, whose mission is to stir up anti-Semitism in the island.

The story of Tropical Secrets is mainly Daniel’s, who never loses hope of one day being reunited with his parents (as far as he knows, they are looking for him in New York, where his boat was supposed to have gone). However, the layering of the four distinct voices and perspectives, paint a much more detailed portrait of this painful and little-known chapter of Cuba’s history. It also helps us realize how dependent on the good will of others refugees’ lives are, and reminds us—because we still need to be reminded— that history leaves traces on how we live in the present.

The author says, at the end: “Even though I didn’t follow the faiths of either of my parents, I hope I have taught my children to be the kind of people who will help refugess of any faith in times of need.”… Wonderful words to ponder over as we close the book and travel with our thoughts, looking for ways to help those who have come to our country looking for hope and a safe harbor.

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19. 2010 YALSA Lit Symposium – Morning Session: Celebramos Libros

Presented by Teri Lesesne, Rosemary Chance, and Janie Flores, and featuring amazing, award-winning authors Benjamin Alire Sáenz and Margarita Engle, this session explored the importance of books and authors that feature Latinos/Hispanics/Chicanos (there was a small discussion of labeling and its drawbacks) and their ability to allow Latino teens to see themselves in the literature made available to them.

Benjamin Sáenz spoke about the fact that he was firstly a poet and a writer for adults until he was asked by a publisher to consider writing for children and then young adults.  And aren’t we glad he said yes.  Mr. Sáenz read passages from his books Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood and Last Night I Sang to the Monster that related to the fact that adults so often fail to really see teens, and that teens in turn look to each other to be seen and understood.  And on the subject of becoming an author, he shared his philosophy that “we become writers by discipline and desire” and that talent is not just a gift that some writers have, but something that they have to work for.  His next book, coming out in 2012, is called Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and will feature a gay, Latino romance set in the 1960s.

Margarita Engle spoke about her Cuban-American heritage and how that informs her passion as a botanist and as an author.  She spoke about the sense of loss she felt at travel restrictions that were in place between the US and Cuba for 30+ years that prevented her from seeing her maternal extended family there.  She also shared her reasons for writing novels in verse.  Aside from being great reads for reluctant readers, or any teen who is looking for a quick read, poetry and metaphor is the language of Cuba.  Engle shared that for a country that has lived under censorship in many iterations, and whose people have learned to express truth in indirect ways, poetry is a natural form of communication.  Her next book, coming out March 2011, is Hurricane Dancers.  It is historical fiction centered around Cuba again, and features the first Caribbean pirate.

The beauty in listening to both authors was hearing how their own identities play so strongly into the Latino characters that they create and the settings they choose, yet knowing the universal nature of the experiences their characters have.  While Latinos will certainly, and wonderfully, see their lives reflected in these books, non-Latinos will as well.

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20. Pura Belpré Awards, 2011: Honoring Latino Authors and Illustrators

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: January 10, 2011

As announced by the American Library Association (ALA) …

Pura Belpré (Author) Award

Honoring a Latino writer whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:

The Dreamer,” written by Pam Muñoz Ryan, is the 2011 Belpré Author Award winner. The book is illustrated by Peter Sís and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Three BelpréAuthor Honor Books were named:

¡Olé! Flamenco,” written and illustrated by George Ancona and published by Lee & Low Books Inc.; “The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba,” written by Margarita Engle and published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC; and “90 Miles to Havana,” written by Enrique Flores-Galbis and published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing.

Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award

Honoring a Latino illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:

Grandma’s Gift,” illustrated and written by Eric Velasquez, is the 2011 Belpré Illustrator Award winner. The book is published by Walker Publishing Company, Inc., a division of Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.

Three Belpré Illustrator Honor Books for illustration were selected:

Fiesta Babies,” illustrated by Amy Córdova, written by Carmen Tafolla and published by Tricycle Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.; “Me, Frida,” illustrated by David Diaz, written by Amy Novesky and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS; “Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin,” illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS.

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21. National Poetry Month: The Firefly Letters

The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to CubaThe Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba Margarita Engle


The castle where Fredrika
spend her childhood
was haunted.

In the attic, there was a sword
that had beheaded a nobleman
during a war.

There were bloodstained clothes
beside the sword.

None of the servants would climb
up to the attic to fetch boxes or trunks
that had been stored
next to ghosts.


This house where I live
it haunted too.

It was built by slaves
who rebelled, and buried an overseer
inside the walls.

Papa has never been able to find
the skeleton,
but sometimes at night
I hear pitiful moans
and rattling chains.

It is either the ghost
of some poor child
from the slave ships
being driven
to market.

In 1851, Sweden's first female novelist journeyed to Cuba. Drawing extensively from her journals, Engle writes a verse novel based on Fredrika Bremer's time there.

The book is mostly told in three voices-- Fredrika's, Elena's (the daughter of the rich family Fredrika is staying with) and Cecelia's (a slave belonging to Elena's family, who acts as Fredrika's translator and guide.)

Although I found the CONSTANT parallels drawn between a woman's role and actual slavery to be a bit much and overdrawn (yes, you had no freedom if you were a rich man's daughter, but you weren't in actual chains) overall, I did really enjoy this book. I also think it makes an interesting companion to Engle's other book on Cuban slavery, The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom. I especially enjoyed seeing Cuba through three different sets of eyes-- a slave who still remembered life in Africa, a Swedish aristocrat, and a Cuban aristocrat-- they had such different opinions and noticed such different things, it gives reader a more complete picture of daily life.

Book Provided by... my local library

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22. IBBY Regional Conference: Peace the World Together with Children’s Books~ Oct 21 – 21, Fresno, CA, USA

The Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature is pleased to state that registrations are still being accepted  for the following conference:

“Peace the World Together with Children’s Books” is the theme of the International Board on Books for Young People regional conference hosted by California State University, Fresno this fall.

Co-sponsored by the Arne Nixon Center at Fresno State, IBBY’s 9th United States Regional Conference will be held at Fresno State on Oct. 21-23.

Conference chair Ellis Vance of Fresno said about 250 people – professors, librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, publishers, collectors and fans – are expected. Registration so far includes participants from 48 states and every continent except Antarctica, Vance said.

The conference offers an opportunity to interact with authors and illustrators around the world, including Alma Flor Ada, Shirin Yim Bridges, F. Isabel Campoy, David Diaz, Margarita Engle, Kathleen Krull, Grace Lin, Roger Mello, Beverly Naidoo, Pam Muñoz Ryan and Peter Sis. Petunia’s Place Bookstore will sell books.

Activities will include exhibitions (including one by the International Youth Library), book discussion groups and tours. Optional activities are available to those who stay on beyond the conference closing at noon on Oct. 23. They include a tour of the Shinzen Japanese Garden in Fresno and a one-day bus trip to Yosemite National Park.

For information on the conference and registration visit www.usbby.org/conf_home.htm.

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23. Pura Belpré Award, 2012

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: January 23, 2012

Author Award Winner

Illustrator Award Winner

Author Honor Book

Author Honor Book

illustrator Honor Book

Illustrator Honor Book

“The award is named after Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate.” ~ALSC

©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.


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24. Review: The Wild Book by Margarita Engle

Fefa has word blindness (dyslexia), and is tormented by the fact that she cannot read well. While her many siblings tease mock her handwriting and tease her, her mother gives her a blank book which gradually allows her to master both reading and writing. When those skills are the ones that save her family from danger, she is celebrated for her slow and careful reading. Margarita Engle's latest novel in verse is a charming read. 

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25. Margarita Engle on Writing Verse

My new novel in verse, THE WILD BOOK, was inspired by stories my grandmother told me about her childhood.  She grew up on a farm in Cuba during the turmoil that followed U.S. occupation of the island after the Spanish-American War.  She also suffered the inner turmoil of dyslexia.  Choosing verse rather than prose gave me a chance to distill that complex historical and personal situation down to its emotional essence.  How did my grandmother feel?  What were her choices? 

Poetry forces me to be brief.  All the facts and figures won’t fit on an un-crowded page of free verse, so I have to choose only details that mean the most to me.  Historical research is painstaking and meticulous, but poetry is expansive and imaginative.  My hope is that the two moods will blend, offering a glimpse into the life of a young person who found hope in times that must have seemed hopeless.

Margarita Engle is the Cuban American winner of the first Newbery Honor ever awarded to a Latino.

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