The Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP) has announced "The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano" by Sonia Manzano (Scholastic, 2002) as the 2013 winner of the Américas Award.
Since 1993, CLASP has sponsored the Américas Award, which is given in recognition of U.S. works of fiction, poetry, folklore, or selected nonfiction (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 uniquely recognizes, too, a text's relevance for K-12 education and focuses on authors whose works have the potential to serve as classroom resources.
This year's winner, "The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano" (Scholastic, 2012), is a striking portrayal of a young woman's coming of age in 1960s New York. Evelyn Serrano, the novel's protagonist, experiences firsthand what Américas Award committee member América Calderón called a "key yet seldom taught story," that of the Puerto Rican civil rights organization the Young Lords. Through Evelyn's maturing perspective, readers gain insight into the history of the Young Lords movement as well as relevant Puerto Rican history set on the island itself. The novel is appropriate for middle and high school students. This is the first novel by writer Sonia Manzano, although many readers will be familiar with her already from her long-time role as "Maria" on the acclaimed television series Sesame Street.
The Américas Award review committee also recognized one book as deserving of an honorable mention: "Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert" (Clarion Books), written by Gary D. Schmidt and illustrated by David Diaz. In addition, three commended titles were selected by the committee, including "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe" (Simon & Schuster) written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz; "Drummer Boy of John John" (Lee and Low Books) written by Mark Greenwood and illustrated by Frané Lessac; and, "In Darkness" (Bloomsbury) written by Nick Lake.
The awards are administered by the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP) and coordinated by both Tulane University's Stone Center for Latin American Studies and Vanderbilt University's Center for Latin American Studies. The UNM Latin American and Iberian Institute (LAII) is one of several sponsors for the award through CLASP. Keira Philipp-Schnurer, supervisor of community education programs at the LAII, serves on the Américas Award national review committee.
For those interested in using the Américas Award as a resource in the classroom, visit the LAII's educational blog, "Vamos a Leer: Teaching Latin America and Literacy."
--Posted Monday, June 3, 2013.