By YVONNE FRENCH and ALBA MOTA
The Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP) presented awards for children's literature at the Library on June 29, during the American Library Association's annual meeting in Washington.
The Americas Children and Young Literature Award was given to two authors and an illustrator on June 29 in the Mumford Room.
The award recognizes U.S. works of fiction, poetry, folklore or selected nonfiction for young adults published in the previous year in English, Spanish or Portuguese that "authentically and engagingly relate to Latin America, the Caribbean or to Latinos in the United States."
CLASP director Julie Klein presented certificates, cash awards and colorful Guatemalan weavings to two authors and an illustrator of books published in 1997, The Face at the Window (Clarion Books) and The Circuit (University of New Mexico Press). The event was hosted by the Library's Hispanic Division and Center for the Book. "Often we don't have an opportunity to promote books in other languages, which is a large part of what we want to do," said John Y. Cole, the center's director.
The Face at the Window by Regina Hanson is about a Jamaican girl who throws stones at an eccentric woman's mango tree and then learns why the woman is so troubled. Ms. Hanson said a librarian gave her the idea for a children's book about mental illness. In writing the book, Ms. Hanson recalled walking to school in her native Jamaica and passing a house with boarded up windows.
"When I learned a little more about mental illness as an adult," said Ms. Hanson, "I wondered if the person who lived there might have had a mental illness. ... I never solved the mystery. It nagged at me until I wrote the book," which was illustrated by Linda Saport, who also received an award.
The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child by Francisco Jiménez is a 12-part autobiographical account of a Mexican boy who was part of "the circuit" of migrant workers who move from farm to farm as crops are harvested in California. "It pays tribute to all the migrant families and children who work in the fields to put food on our tables," said Mr. Jiménez, who was born in Mexico and came to the United States with his family when he was 4 years old. He began to work in the fields when he was 6, picking cotton, strawberries and carrots. While moving from camp to camp, "school and learning were the only consistent things for me," he said.
During a reception following the awards ceremony, Rep. Major R. Owens (D-N.Y.) said, "What these authors are doing is not recognized and not glamorous, but it captures and keeps alive so much that is fundamental in how you shape the values of children. That's what these two books do."
Senior Bibliographic Specialist Reynaldo C. Aguirre of the Hispanic Division made the Library's arrangements for the awards ceremony and reception, which was attended by more than 100 people, many of them ALA participants. It was the fifth year the awards were given and the third time that the event was held at the Library.
Ms. French is a public affairs specialist in the Public Affairs Office. Ms. Mota is an intern in the Public Affairs Office.