As the Frankfurt Book Fair opened last week, there were already plenty of promises of good things to come. Munich-based International Youth Library (IYL), through Lucia Obi, has contacted the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) that their publication, “Pagkatapos ng Unos” (After the Storm) by Harry Monzon was selected for inclusion in The 2021 White Ravens Catalog.
The book received PBBY’s first wordless book award in 2018. On page 40 of The White Ravens catalog, it is featured alongside a book from Belgium and is described as “captivating to readers, even without any basic knowledge of Typhoon ‘Ondoy.’ ”
It depicts a man trying to save his belongings in a boat when floodwaters fill his house. Despite the apparent tragedy, man does not lose hope and knows that life will go on and must go on. This is a statement on climate change.
“Unos” has become part of the IYL White Ravens catalog which recommends 200 outstanding titles for children and young adults in 38 languages from 54 countries. What is the significance of this inclusion?
The 2021 White Ravens would be available at the IYL Frankfurt Book Fair booth and also at the Bologna Virtual Children’s Book Fair in June. It is an organized collection of international books intended to promote quality in children’s book publishing. Throughout the year, language specialists and children’s books watch over outstanding titles from around the world. These are recommended for an international audience and are selected on the basis of the universality of their themes, the quality of the story and the illustration, “innovative approaches or design”.
The largest collection in the world
This is not the first time that a title from the Philippines has been selected. In 2020, “Karapat Dapat”, written by May Tobias-Papa, with works by Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang INK), published by Canvas, was selected by IYL. It presents the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in a way that children would appreciate and understand.
“Si Kian” written by Weng Cahiles, illustrated by Aldy C. Aguirre, published by Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, was featured in the 2018 White Ravens. It’s the heartbreaking tale of how 17-year-old Kian delos Santos was shot dead by police for suspected drug involvement. Who can forget his heartbreaking call to be spared because he still had a test tomorrow?
The selected books are part of the IYL collection housed in Blutenburg Castle, which dates back to the 13th century. It is said to be the world’s largest collection of international children’s and youth literature with its debut in 1949.
Among the activities of the IYL is a scholarship program in which two Filipino children’s authors participated: Eugene Evasco and Christine Bellen, who certainly did not hesitate to learn in such a beautiful environment.
The 2021 White Ravens can be downloaded as a PDF file from the IYL website (ijb.de).
At the end of September, another children’s book from the Philippines won a special award. “The Pencil That Won’t Write,” written by Mary Ann Ordinario and illustrated by Beth Parrocha, published by ABC Educational Development Center, won first prize at the 2021 International Indie Children’s Book Cover Award. The book competed with 152 entries from all over the world.
This award appears to be quarterly and focuses on the cover of the book only. The initiative for such an award is to “provide support and services to stand-alone, hybrid and small-scale newspaper authors.” Although Quarters contend that the book cannot be judged by its cover, this recognition is most encouraging for Filipino illustrators like Parrocha.
The award will see the book featured in more than 40 Facebook and Instagram groups across the United States, targeting mom groups, teacher groups, librarian groups, book lovers and discerning kids groups. . It will be featured in the Magic Beans bookstore in Los Angeles and on the popular Solster Nation YouTube channel. Anything that can spread the good news is always welcome.
Author-editor Ordinario is also to be congratulated on the first Mindanao and Asean Children’s Literary Festival which she organized in partnership with the National Book Development Board. The month-long festival (until November 8) featured storytelling in local languages in Mindanao and workshops on writing and illustrating children’s books. A worthy project that has been long in coming is finally going beyond Metro Manila. —FIVE CONTRIBUTED