Wednesday, December 30, 2015

FOCAL Award Luncheon, December 2015

Puppets by Jesse Kingsley, depicting Sylvia Mendez in the book Separate is Not Equal by Duncan Tonitiuh
On Saturday, December 12th, I attended the annual gala luncheon that honors the winner of the FOCAL Award. FOCAL (Friends of Children and Literature) is the support group of the children’s literature department of the Los Angeles Public Library. The award is presented annually to a children's book with California content. This year it went to Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight For Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh, published by Abrams, 2014.
FOCAL Luncheon book sale table with Storybook Puppets and Separate is Not Equal
Usually the author of the winning book gives a speech at the luncheon. This year, however, Duncan Tonatiuh was unable to attend. Instead, he sent a video of his acceptance, so we got to meet him virtually. His charming young daughter was also part of the video. And, while we were not able to meet the author, it was a special treat to be able to meet Sylvia Mendez, the subject of the book, who came to the luncheon. She was delightful and enjoyed interacting with all of the guests.
Sylvia Mendez

Every year at the luncheon, winners are presented with a unique puppet representing a character from their award-winning book.  Jesse Kingsley, the puppeteer, used Duncan’s illustrations as inspiration for his puppet of Sylvia.

For many years the puppets for the FOCAL winners were created by Carol Onofrio. Another special treat at this year’s luncheon was the wonderful new book with photographs of all Carol’s puppets and their stories. The book, Storybook Puppets, created by Carol Onofrio’s family as a memorial to her body of work, is available in the shop at the Central Library.

Also present at the awards luncheon were children who won the FOCAL essay contest, along with their teachers, and parents. Each of the children read their essay aloud and told about a favorite part of the book and why they would like to meet the author.

Many people contributed to the success of the luncheon: the officers of FOCAL; the hardworking FOCAL award committee, whose difficult job it is to choose a winner; LAPL children’s librarians; the middle school art students and their teacher, Ray Moscowicz, who created the wonderful centerpieces for the tables; and the parents and teachers who encouraged the students to write their wonderful essays. I always enjoy going to the luncheon and helping to celebrate the love for books and reading. Thanks to everyone for making it such a festive occasion!

For more about the book SEPARATE IS NEVER EQUAL go to my blog post for September 9, 2015.
Caroline Gill, President of FOCAL; Sandy Schuckett, Essay Contest Chair

1 comment:

pmslib9 said...

Thanks for this wonderful posting. It truly was another very special year honoring such an important book.
The author's daughter is about 8-9 months at the time of the luncheon.