Pura Belpré Award
2004

Medal Winner for Narrative:

Julia AlvarezBefore We Were FreeYA Alvarez, J

Before We Were Free is an engrossing account of 12-year old Anita's life amidst the fear that consumes her family. “This powerfully written story reflects the uncertainty and danger that pervaded the air during this time in the Dominican Republic's troubling history,” said Belpré Award Committee Chair Rose V. Treviño.

Exquisitely written testimonial, sometimes in diary form, immerses readers in the details of life under dictator General Trujillo in the Dominican Republic during the political upheavals of the early 1960's. It is an engaging story of one girl's coming of age set against a backdrop of fear and secrets. Powerful and at times intense, this book will take readers on a frightening journey of fear and anguish that will cause them to pray for the rescue of Anita and her family.

Medal Winner for Illustration:

Yuyi Morales. Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book j E MOR 

“Morales' energetic and playful illustrations capture the essence of Mexican culture with bold and humorous motifs that illuminate Grandma Beetle's vitality and Señor Calavera's expressiveness,” said Treviño.

Honor Book for Narrative:

Nancy Osa. Cuba 15. YA OSA

Cuba 15 humorously and poignantly tells the story of Violet Paz as she prepares unwillingly for her quinceañero, the traditional Latina 15th birthday celebration. Her journey into self-discovery leads her to truly value and understand her Cuban heritage for the first time.

Amada Irma Pérez. My Diary from Here to There/Mi Diario de Aquí Hasta Allá.  j E PER

My Diary From Here To There/Mi diario de aquí hasta allá is a touching account of a family emigrating from Mexico to California. A bilingual picture book, this young girl's diary chronicles the family's anxiety, excitement, and uncertainty as they leave home and experience the same journey made by many families.

Honor Book for Illustration:

Robert Casilla, Illustrator. Written by L. King Pérez. First Day in Grapes j E PER

First Day in Grapes vividly and realistically portrays the human characters in the story about a child of migrant workers. The use of watercolor, colored pencil, and pastel create a warmth and sensitivity to Chico and his school experiences.

David Diaz, Illustrator. Written by Nancy Andrews-Goebel. The Pot That Juan Built. j E AND

The Pot that Juan Built is a picture biography that combines a variant of “The House That Jack Built,” with the story of Juan Quezada, who rediscovered the ancient method of pottery making in Mata Ortiz, Mexico. Diaz's original type font and computer-generated art exudes a rich palette that glows like jewels and reflects the hot desert sun.

Yuyi Morales, Illustrator. Written by Kathleen Krull. Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez j 921 Chavez, C.,  Kru

In Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, Morales uses brightly colored acrylics, handmade stamps, and computer-created cutouts to depict the life of this civil rights leader. Golden, earth-toned colors and wide, flowing brush strokes lend depth and honesty to the history and struggle of migrant farm workers in California.