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2017 Pura Belpré Awards Honor Latino Authors for Cultural Literature

The 2017 Pura Belpré award winners were announced this week, showcasing some of the most influential Latino children's literature of the year.

Colombian-born Juana Medina received the Pura Belpré Author Award for her book "Juana and Lucas," which she both wrote and illustrated. Medina's book "Juana and Lucas" is based on Medina's childhood experiences. The humorous chapter book follows the day-to-day adventures of the invincible Juana, who's a young girl growing up in Bogota, Colombia and has to learn something called "English”

"Juana and Lucas" book cover Armas, Marissa (206523519) / Amazon

“It’s a great honor that I would have never imagined,” Medina told NBC Latino of the award announced Monday. Medina said that now more than ever she feels it is her “responsibility to continue telling the stories of Latino characters.”

Illustrator Raul Gonzales received the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award for his work on the book "Lowriders to the Center of the Earth." The book tells the story of Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack and Elirio Malaria, as they embark on an epic journey to the realm of Mictlantecuhtli, Aztec god of the Underworld.

"The Only Road" written by Cuban-American Alexandra Diaz was named the 2017 Author Honor book. The book follows the journey of two cousins’ journey to the north after their family is threatened by a gang in Guatemala.

Additionally, "Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist" and "The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes," both illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh and written by Susan Wood, received the 2017 Illustrator Honor Books.

Related: 8 Great Latino Books Published in 2018

The Pura Belpré award was named after the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. It is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best represents and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

The American Library Association announced the winners at its Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta.