With The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo welcomed us into the world of Xiomara Batista, a 15-year-old Afro-Latina who begins to feel at odds with her parents’ rules. To cope with the issues at home and the questions she has about religion, she turns to writing, something she originally did for just herself. Since its release in March 6, 2018, Acevedo’s book has received rave reviews and racked up awards, including the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the Printz Award in Young Adult Literature. This week, Acevedo also became the 2019 recipient of the Pura Belpré Author Award.
Acevedo, who won both the Printz Award and the Pura Belpré this week, took to Twitter to write a quick note about what it means to her. “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,” she wrote.
The Pura Belpré award is named after librarian, writer, and puppeteer Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican hired by the New York Public Library. By bringing more Spanish books to the shelves and reaching out to Latinx communities, Belpré changed the libraries in the city. After her death, the Pura Belpré Award was created to celebrate a Latinx writer and illustrator “whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.”
Along with Acevedo, Yuyi Morales won the Pura Belpré Illustraor Award for Dreamers, which tells the story of an immigrant mother and her son whose lives are transformed by the library.