By Dr. Ma. Alma González Pérez
My daughter Maricia and I had a most delightful experience at the International Latino Book Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles, California this past weekend.
I say it was a delightful experience because everything was very accessible to us, and everyone we came into contact was very friendly and helpful. We met many wonderful persons – many authors themselves who shared their insight into the craft as well as their contact information. Thus, we made many friends.
The ceremony itself was very exciting. We heard from the awards co-founder, Mr. Kirk Whisler on the history of the Awards, and on the importance of recognizing great Latino writers. He pointed to the increased influence Latino writers and creators are having in Hollywood, and showed us the trailer to the upcoming Pixar movie, “Coco,” which he mentioned was written by Mexican American screenwriter Adrian Molina and included past ILBA winner Lalo Alcaraz as part of its cultural consultant team. The movie also features an all Hispanic cast.
The moment finally arrived when the children’s book award categories were announced. When they called out 3rd place, and it wasn’t my book, and then they quickly called 2nd place, and it wasn’t my book either, I said to myself, “I better hustle up there because ‘Todos a Comer – …’ must be 1st place!” Sure enough it was, but I felt I wasn’t getting up there fast enough.
I was honored that the person presenting the awards for “Best Latino Focused Children’s Picture Book” category was former U. S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solís. However, at the same time, I was so disappointed because she mispronounced the title of my book. My daughter then shouted out the correct pronunciation, and she had to correct herself.
Over 233 authors and publishers were honored from across the USA as well as from 19 other countries at this year’s event. Our sincere congratulations to all the award winners. Here is a complete list of all the 2017 ILBA Book Award Winners.
During our trip to Los Angeses, we were also very lucky to be able to visit My Escuelita, a Spanish Immersion Preschool, in Redondo Beach as they were having an Open House Saturday. We met our good friend Irma Vásquez who has been using our book for her classes since this summer. We even met her staff, and they were all so down to earth and friendly that we were most happy we were able to fit their event into our schedule. This school is our first out-of-state partner in education, and we certainly hope to continue working with them.
Lastly on our agenda was the LA Latino Book & Family Festival on Sunday morning. We were pleasantly surprised that it was well attended by many families out enjoying the day. We also met many educators looking for materials for their classes, and, of course, many bought our books.
It is our sincere hope that California with such a high Hispanic population will find our books useful in meeting their curriculum standards. We will continue our quest of “Meeting the biliteracy challenges of the Hispanic learner,” for in every child I see myself trying to make sense of my life and of my world that looked down on my culture, on my people – on myself. That CANNOT continue to happen. That attitude MUST stop, and it must stop NOW!