Margarita Engle, the Clovis author of “Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir,” and Rafael López, illustrator of “Drum Dream Girl” (also written by Engle), are the 2016 winners of the Pura Belpré Author and Illustrator Awards. The award honors Latino authors and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children’s books.
The awards were presented by the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking during the group’s meetings in mid-January.
“Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir” (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $17.99) is a memoir in free verse about growing up in two cultures during an era of great tension between the United States and Cuba.
“Drum Dream Girl” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99) is the story of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl in 1930s Cuba who becomes a world-renowned drummer.
Engle became a professor of agronomy at Cal Poly Pomona and directed a water conservation project in San Diego County. For years, she wrote for literary journals and periodicals. It wasn’t until 1993 that she got her first book, the adult novel “Singing to Cuba,” published.
In 2006 she published her first book for children, “The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano.” Since then, she’s written 16 books aimed at young readers.
Erika Garabedian, who works as a legal secretary for a Fresno law firm, has written “My Forever Valentine” (Tate Publishing,$9.99). The children’s book is the story of an adopted child and his family.
The book follows the conversation between Henry and his father as he decides to ask what makes him their forever valentine. It’s designed to help answer the questions asked by adopted children.
Garabedian got her bachelor’s degree in criminology from Fresno State. In her early college years, she worked for the newspaper in Madera as a staff writer.
Other books of local interest
“The Bakersfield Sound: How a Generation of Displaced Okies Revolutionized American Music” (iUniverse, $21.95): Robert Price, an editor with the Bakersfield Californian, takes a look at the musical influences of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard.
“Galina’s Hope – Beyond the Fire” (WestBowPress, $13.95): Galina Messmer endured a tragedy in Fresno on Jan. 22, 1999, when her husband murdered her three sons and committed suicide. The book is her story from the tragedy to the starting of the not-for-profit Galina’s Hope.
“Lexi Wants” (Dorrance Publishing, $14): Fowler’s Dolores C. Bouciegues has written this children’s book about a 6-year-old who wants a hamster for her birthday.
“The Wonder of It All: 100 Stories from the National Park Service” (Yosemite Conservancy, $18.95): A collection of stories from the tens of thousands of National Park Service employees and volunteers. Will be available to order at online book sites starting March 15.