Yesterday, two of our favorite Latina writers won major literary awards for their published works released last year. The American Library Association (ALA) announced that author Meg Medina won the 2019 John Newbery Medal for her children’s book Merci Suárez Changes Gears. Author Elizabeth Acevedo won the 2019 Michael L. Printz Award for her book, The Poet X. Acevedo also won the Odyssey Award and a Pura Belpré Award, which honors a “Latinx writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.”
“Hey everyone, I’m overwhelmed,” Medina tweeted after the announcement was made. Her award, the John Newbery Medal, recognizes work for most outstanding contribution to children’s literature. “TY 4 your screams & shouts & hugs & love & good wishes. And congrats 2 every1 who earned awards 2day. I’m overwhelmed but in the best way possible. XOXOXO.”
Acevedo, who’s previously been awarded The 2018 National Book Award for her New York Times-Best Selling book, tweeted that each honor for her book is special and unique.
“I don’t take any award, acknowledgment or write up about THE POET X for granted. I know every time a book about a black girl, Latinx girl, girl of color is celebrated readers who haven’t been affirmed maybe believe being the protagonist of their own life is a bit more possible,” Acevedo tweeted. “That said, I want to give my sincerest thanks to the committees of the Printz & Pura Belpre Award for giving THE POET X the highest honors this morning at
#alayma. I am humble, grateful & excited for the readers who will come across this novel because you amplified its voice.”
If you haven’t read either book, here’s a little bit about them.
Medina’s book Merci Suárez Changes Gears, also a Best-Seller and a must-have for all children, centers around sixth grader Merci Suarez who lives in Florida. This humorous and touching coming-of-age story shares Merci’s struggles with classmates and trying to understand her grandfather’s illness.
Acevedo’s book Poet X, is filled with beautiful and powerful slam poetry that just flows out of Xiomara Batista — the book’s protagonist. Xiomara has lots to deal with, feelings for a boy, pressures from her family and church, but mostly she’s coming to realize who she is and what she wants to say.
Congratulations to the winners! We know these wins will inspire kids of color to keep pursuing their dreams in writing, illustrating, and reading.