YMA Highlights 2022 APA Awards for Children’s Literature Category Winners


CHICAGO — The Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA), an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA), announced the 2022 winners of its Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature youth categories on January 24 during the announcement of the ALA Youth Media Award at LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience, held January 21-24.

The Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature celebrates Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage. Prizes are awarded on the basis of literary and artistic merit in three children’s categories: picture book, children’s literature and young adult literature.

The winner of the 2022 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature Picture Book is “Watercress,” written by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin and published by Neal Porter Books.

Picking watercress by the roadside sparks a conversation within a family about their family’s history, heritage and memories. In this illustrated autobiographical account by renowned author and artist Chin, which incorporates painting styles and techniques from both Western and Chinese cultures

The committee selected a picture book honor title, “A Boy Named Isamu: A Story of Isamu Noguchi”, written by James Yang, published by Viking Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division by Penguin Random House.

“Amina’s Song,” written by Hena Khan and published by Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, is the winner of the 2022 Asia/Pacific American Prize for Children’s Literature.

“Amina’s Song” celebrates the strength of identity, family, friendship and culture. After spending part of her summer vacation in Lahore, Pakistan, meeting and forming strong family ties with her cousin and uncle, and exploring the sights, sounds and smells of Pakistan, Amina returns to the end of summer vacation in Wisconsin and in seventh grade. The struggles Amina faces as she balances her Pakistani identity and her self-discovery is something that has touched many of us. Amina’s character is someone many can relate to and her strength is inspiring.

The committee selected a children’s literature honor, titled “Finding Junie Kim,” written by Ellen Oh and published by HarperCollins.

The winner of the Asia/Pacific American Prize for Children’s Literature is “Last Night at the Telegraph Club,” written by Malinda Lo and published by Dutton Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House.

In 1950s San Francisco’s Chinatown, 17-year-old Lily Hu explores her identity as a gay Chinese-American teenager through a joyful interracial relationship with her white classmate Kathleen. Their growing relationship is set against the backdrop of San Francisco’s underground gay scene during the Red Scare, where government paranoia over Communists during the Cold War is rampant.

Lo skillfully presents her characters and storyline with historical accuracy, graceful use of Chinese language and dialect, and deep cultural awareness. She also shines a light on an often overlooked and underappreciated lesbian culture, linking it to the history of Chinese America. Young people will see their own internal and external struggles reflected in Lily and her journey of self-awakening.

The committee selected a Children’s Literature Honor, “We Are Not Free,” written by Traci Chee and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The winners and honors books were chosen from titles by or about Asian-Pacific Americans published between September 2020 and August 2021. Each award winner will be named and receive the award seal at the annual awards ceremony of APALA Literature to be held at the ALA Annual Conference and Expo in Washington. , CC

For a complete list of Asian/Pacific American literature awards, including adult fiction and nonfiction titles, visit www.apalaweb.org/awards/literature-awards/.

Members of the 2022 Asian/Pacific American Literature Awards Committee include:

Co-Chairs Buenaventura “Ven” Basco, University of Central Florida, Orlando; Dora Ho, Los Angeles Public Library, retired; and Helen Look, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Picture Book Award Committee:

Chair: Dora Ho, Los Angeles Public Library, retired; Kristen Kwisnek, Severn School, Arnold, Maryland; and Becky Leathersich, State University of New York, Geneseo, NY

Children’s Literature Prize Committee:

co-chair Florence Tang, Mercer University, Atlanta; Co-Chair Jamie Kurumaji, Fresno County Public Library, Fresno; Arya Hackney, University of Eastern New Mexico, Portales, NM; Katie Hom, Alameda County Library, Fremont; and Yun Ji (Angie) So, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.

Children’s Literature Prize Committee:

Chair Crystal Chen, New York Public Library; Danilo Baylen, College of Education, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, Georgia; Anna Coats, Newark Public Library, Newark, NJ; Tamiko Welch, Los Angeles Public Library; and Jen Woo, San Francisco Public Library.

The Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) was founded in 1980 by librarians of diverse Asian/Pacific backgrounds determined to work together toward a common goal: to create an organization that would serve the needs of Asian/Pacific American librarians and of those who serve Asian/Pacific American communities.

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