the 2009 am ricas award for children s and young adult literature
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The 2009 Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature

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The 2009 Américas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. About the Award.

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about the award
About the Award

The Américas Award 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 quality; 2) cultural contextualization; 3) exceptional integration of text, illustration and design; and 4) potential for classroom use.

2009 Américas Winner

“Some of the U.S. Army nurses are young Lakota Sioux nuns who have come here to help us even though their own tribe in the north has suffered so much, for so long, starving and dying in their own distant wars.

One of the nuns is called Josefina Two Bears. She promises to take care of all the orphans from the camps.”


Américas Honorable Mention

“Like, no matter where you might be-there’ll always be people who are gonna get in your face…because, you know what, where you are doesn’t change who you are. I thought of that while I was sitting with Sheri waiting for the bus, feeling more like myself than I had in a long time-maybe ever.”


“There was once a shoemaker who had a shop close to the king’s palace. He was the world’s most unhappy man. All day long, as he sewed leather and nailed soles onto shoes, he sang to himself:If you’re born to be a poor man, then poor you’re going to be. If you’re born to be a poor man, then poor you’re going to be.The king often passed by the cobbler’s shop in his carriage, and every time he leaned out the window to listen, he heard the shoemaker singing the same old song: If you’re born to be a poor man, then poor you’re going to be. If you’re born to be a poor man, then poor you’re going to be.”

Detail, Baila, Nana, Baila


Américas Commended Title

“Our country is at war with itself. Argentina has become a battlefield, a country of death and of mourners. Just as we are brother and sister, Eduardo, and our quarrels tear at our hearts, so our people fight one another to death. It is the cruelest kind of war.”


“Them people who only now come from India-they not like that at all.’” “But we not like that, either,” said Ricki. ‘”I don’t think I could be like one of those long-ago people that first come from India to Trinidad.”

“Me neither,” said Grandpa. “Is not easy to leave home and go someplace where you different from everybody else. Them long-ago Indian people didn’t have it easy when they first come here. My own grandfather used to tell me about it. They didn’t have it easy at all.”

Detail, Divali Rose


Américas Commended Title

“We were extremely poor, so poor that our clothes came from donations and second-hand cloting stores – in fact, second-hand store clothes were a luxury for us. … In the union we worked for five dollars a week at first, and later 10 dollars a week. … All my children were raised in a lifestyle of extreme deprivation – they didn’t have toys or clothes.”


Américas Commended Title

“’A degenerate?’ My voice quivers. ‘Mami, Mami. Please understand. I’m no degenerate. I’m your daughter. Why are you being so cruel? All you do is hurt me and hurt me. You have to stop.’

She turns to me with such rage in her face, I’m afraid she’s going to slap me. ‘You’re sick! Sick and demented. You need a psychiatrist!’

‘You’re the one who needs therapy! I’m going to start supplicating to Santa Barbara so she’ll turn you gay! How do you like that?’

“Shhh. The neighbors.’ She rushes to close the sliding doors.

I calm down. ‘I’ve always wanted a mother to understand and support me. But you just can’t do it, can you?’”


Américas Commended Title

“They want something better, Lisa told herself. They want to move away from this trailer. Cold wind whispered through the cracks, gutters dripped with the last of the rain, Pecas bumped somewhere under the trailer, and the floor seemed to lurch like a ship. Were they on a wide dusty sea in the middle of nowhere? Lisa knew that if she went outside onto the small porch, the night would be black, a color seldom used in her drawings because she had enough of it in life.”


Américas Commended Title

“My mom, she really objected to me being a political animal. But what happens if you were born with a mind? Why is thinking about shopping better than thinking about the state of the world you live in? Tell me that. She says I’m too young to go around analyzing how the world is run. And one day, when I was going on and on about global warming, she actually said, ‘It’s none of your business, Jacob.’ She actually said that. Are you getting to the point where you understand where I get all this attitude? Are you getting this? Anyway, one day, I came home wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt. ‘Where do you get these things?’ she asked. ‘You don’t even know what Che Guevara stood for.’”


“…around the kitchen they sweep, feet tapping, water dripping, sponge wiping, towel snapping.

My mother’s voice joins my father’s, hers high and his low. Together they tango across the room with the leftover tamales.”

Detail, Kitchen Dance


“This book is your personal invitation to become part of one of the most exciting youth movements of our time: PeaceJam’s Global Call to Action. PeaceJam is bringing young people together with Nobel Peace Laureates to tackle the toughest issues facing our planet – issues ranging from basic needs, such as access to water, to basic rights, such as social justice and human security. Change starts here, and we are inviting you to become a part of it. How will you answer the call?”

Américas Commended Title


Américas Commended Title

“Hoping to leave our poverty behind and start a new and better life, my family emigrated illegally from Mexico to California in the late 1940s and began working in the fields. From the time I was six years old, Toto and I worked together alongside our parents. He sang Mexican songs to me such as ‘Cielito Lindo’ and ‘Dos Arbolitos’ while we picked cotton in early fall and winter in Corcoran. After we were deported in 1957 by la migra and came back legally, Roberto took care of me like a father when he and I lived alone for six months in Bonetti Ranch, a migrant labor camp.”


Américas Commended Title

“’If people are the smartest and most powerful creatures in the world, does that mean they are also the best and most virtuous?’ asked one of the b’en.

‘Not necessarily,’ Ixkem answered. ‘We Maya believe that everything has its counterpart. There’s water because there’s fire; there’s sky because there’s earth; there’s man because there’s woman. The large exists because of the small and the good exists because of the bad. Everything has its opposite. So there are good people as well as bad.’”


Américas Commended Title

“By the time I actually started sixth grade, I felt like a burra – a donkey, which was what they called the kids who weren’t too smart. We had missed a little more than a week of school. Nothing was like it was supposed to be. I wasn’t sure how to explain it except that I felt very small.”


Américas Commended Title

“As much as I liked the way chickens tasted, I owed my life to one of them. When I was about ten years, I had gone upstate to a campground, and as we were sitting around eating some chicken, a great big nasty bear with giant teeth came out of the woods growling at us. Everybody ran away, but as the bear came after us, wanting to eat us humans, I threw a chicken leg at him. This big bear, nasty as he was, ate it, calmed down, and looked happy. … Anyway, I got home safe, but when I arrived at the door, all I wanted to do was eat more chicken.”


Américas Commended Title

“On each slaver, as soon as I’d been through the hold with water and people’s thirst was quenched, the questions began, always the same: ‘Where are we? Are they going to kill us now?’ Or the more gruesome versions: ‘Are they going to eat us now? Use our blood for paint? Use our fat to caulk their ships? Use our skin to make sails?’

‘You’re in Cartagena of the Indies,’ I would tell them. ‘A land ruled by Spain. The Portuguese brought you here, but you will be sold to Spaniards. They will not kill you, but you will be their slaves.’”



Américas Award for Children\'s and Young Adult Literature

Review Committee

Kristel Foster (Sunnyside Unified School District, Arizona)

Jamie Campbell Naidoo (University of Alabama)

Hollis Rudiger (Madison, Wisconsin)

Elena Gibbons Serapiglia (Yale University, Connecticut)

Patricia Velasco, chairperson (Teachers College, Columbia University, New York)

Award Coordinator

Julie Kline

CLASP Committee on Teaching and Outreach

c/o The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201

(414) 229-5986 phone; (414) 229-2879 fax

[email protected]