|Carol Raby and Amy Novesky and Frida puppet|
On Saturday, January 28, 2012, book lovers of all kinds–librarians, teachers, students, parents, authors, illustrators, readers–gathered at the Border Grill in downtown Los Angeles, across the street from the Los Angeles Public Library, to celebrate the wonderful picture book, Me, Frida, written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by David Diaz, winner of the 2011 FOCAL award.
As people arrived, a slide show prepared by Mara Alpert of the Children’s Literature Department flashed on the screen, reacquainting us with past winners, going back to 1980 when the first winner was Leo Politi for Pedro: The Angel of Olvera Street. On display at the front of the room was a striking black-and-white drawing of Frida Kahlo, created by David Diaz, available to the lucky winner of the opportunity drawing, enthusiastically promoted by Renny Day. David couldn’t attend the luncheon because of a scheduling conflict, but sent his best wishes. Amy, who lives in San Francisco, had flown down for the day to accept the award. I was lucky to sit with her at the head table.
|Frida puppet made by Carol Onofrio|
And, finally, Amy Novesky told us in her acceptance speech about herself and how she came to write Me, Frida. She grew up in California near the beach and knew she wanted to be a writer from the age of nine. She said she has always liked to tackle difficult subjects for her books and spent ten years working on Me, Frida. She told how in the process of “turning a not quite story into a story” she came upon the image of the little bird as a theme to carry through the book. She emphasized her life-long love of books and how much libraries helped shape her as a writer.
The day ended with autographing and a tour of the library for Amy. Afterward, she wrote, “I really enjoyed taking a tour of the children’s wing of the library–what a gorgeous building–and seeing all of the FOCAL award-winning books and puppets. To see Me, Frida among them really brought home the meaning of this award.”
Note: FOCAL stands for Friends of Children and Libraries and is a support group of the Los Angeles Public Library.