For the first time in 94 years, a Latino male author has won the John Newbery Medal for literature, considered one of the most important honors for American children’s books, according to NPR.
Matt de la Peña and his book Last Stop on Market Street (illustrated by Christian Robinson) made the 2016 list earlier today, as announced by the American Library Association. The story is about a little boy who takes the bus with his grandmother, while at the same time wondering why his friends and their families have things like cars and electronic gadgets.
Last year, de la Peña, who grew up in the border town of National City, California, was featured on NPR last February, where he discussed why he wrote the book and his background.
I grew up in a very working-class neighborhood right down by the border in San Diego in a town called National City. We never had quite enough, but we made it work. And I think my goal with everything I write —you know, picture books, novels— is to kind of show the grace and dignity on the, quote, unquote, wrong side of the tracks.
UPDATE: Paula Fox, the winner of the 1974 Newbery Award, had a Cuban mother. As a child, Fox spent time in Cuba:
Fox spent the next few years with her maternal grandmother in a cramped apartment in Queens, where she was taunted by her schoolmates, and in Cuba, where her grandmother worked as a companion to a wealthy relative on a plantation. There, she attended a one-room school and made friends with the servants in order to have some company. ”I felt very lonely in Cuba, but I was terribly interested in everything,” Fox recalls. ”I didn’t have any sense of self, but I had a terrific sense of the outside, that the world was huge and alien and exotic.” When the Cuban government was overthrown in 1933 — Fox was 10 years old — she and her grandmother returned to Queens.
Featured image via mattdelapena.com
Editor’s Note: Original headline was changed to reflect mention of Fox’s 1974 win.
24 thoughts on “Matt de la Peña Becomes First Latino Male Author to Win Prestigious Newbery Medal”
Wonderful news! I read the book and loved it! Congratulations, Matt!
If my grandmother hadn’t taken me on the bus to the school psychologist who applied the maturity test, I wouldnt have been able to start school then. Las abuelas, !que vivan! Taking the bus is an important survival skill that a lot of entitled kids, crippled without a ride, need to learn. El autor, !que viva!
I loved gramma too
National City, CA
This abuela getting book for my little ones.
Abuelas y Abuelos are wise ones, and magical!
Congratulations Matt! This is wonderful news. 🙂
Background sounds similar to my peers’ and students’. Love the positive message. Congrats Matt!
Congratulations! Felicidades! The Newberry Medal is a fantastic recognition. This award also leads to a huge number of readers– of all ages!
Proud National City teacher here! Love this town. Muchas felicidades, Matt!
What took so long?
Congratulations . What an honor!
sounds likea great book to read for any aged person
Why have you ignored Pam Muñoz Ryan’s win for Echo? Isn’t she a Latina?
How quick Latino NPR is to discover “Latino” firsts, even when the claim is fallacious and erroneous…perhaps some qualified “La Tino” researchers would have helped at NPR…not all “La Tinos” have names ending in “ez” or write about barrios, bongos or broken burritos…