Wednesday, July 17, 2013



The ALA Convention was jam-packed with highlights: 

  • Presenting I'm Your Neighbor at the Diversity Fair and
  • stopping by every publisher's booth to look for new titles; 

I'm Your Neighbor Director Kirsten Cappy 
and Project Assistant Delanie Honda

Here is an excerpt from remarks by Susan L. Minobe, chair of the Picture Book Award committee, 2011/12, in presenting the award:

"There are very few picture books about Southeast Asians, and Cambodian Americans in particular. Young readers are gently introduced to Cambodian customs, culture, and history through Anne Sibley O'Brien's sensitive and gradually unfolding tale with its vibrantly colored and diffuse illustrations.
"She also touches upon, but does not delve deeply into the trauma of war, genocide and starvation during Cambodian Civil War. However, readers will certainly glean a hint of the tragedy through Lok Yeay's eyes and her story of escaping that horror to come to the United States.
"A 'path of stars' carries Lok Yeay from her happy childhood stargazing with her family, through the trauma of her young motherhood following the stars West with her brother to escape war and death, through her new life and future in the U.S. with her daughter's family, especially with her granddaughter Dara -- whose name means 'star.'

"Congratulations to this year’s Picture Book Honor book, A Path of Stars, written & illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien."
Awardees and APALA members at the ceremony.

I also had a memorable encounter with a young woman named Christina who had won the APALA Student Scholarship to attend the convention. In my remarks about creating A Path of Stars, I included this reflection:
"Communities of Cambodian Americans, such as ours here in Maine, began taking root in the U.S. in the late 1970's. The oldest American-born Cambodians--in any significant numbers--are in their 30s. What it means to be Cambodian American is being defined now, in all its variety, by these young people, creating a brand-new, unique piece of the American mosaic. I look forward to the day when books about the Cambodian-American experience will be written and illustrated by the people who are living that story."
Afterwards, Christina approached me to say, "I'm Cambodian! You were talking about me!" and to share that she has an intention of telling stories about her own experience. I was so moved and delighted to meet her.   

signing a book for Christina

And finally,
  • Attending a panel, "Latino Books for Youth: An Honest Conversation," with speakers including Kathleen Horning, Director of the Cooperative Children's Book Center; librarian Oralia Garza de Cortes, consultant with Latino Children’s Literature and Family Literacy; and Lee & Low publisher Jason Low. It was an invigorating discussion with a fierce and rousing call to action  (more in a following post).

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