PH children’s books gain recognition from international bodies

“Pagkatapos ng Unos”

At the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair last week, there were already many promises of good things to come. The Munich-based International Youth Library (IYL), through Lucia Obi, informed the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) that its publication, “Pagkatapos ng Unos” (After the Storm) by Harry Monzon, had been selected for inclusion in The White Ravens 2021 catalog.

The book received PBBY’s first Wordless Book Prize in 2018. On page 40 of The White Ravens catalog, it is featured alongside a book from Belgium and is described as ‘endearing to readers, even without any basic knowledge of Typhoon’ Ondoy. ‘”

It portrays a man trying to save his belongings on a boat when floodwaters fill his home. Despite the apparent tragedy, man does not lose hope and knows that life will continue and must continue. This is a statement on climate change.

“Unos” has joined the IYL White Ravens catalog which recommends 200 major titles for children and young adults in 38 languages ​​from 54 countries. What is the significance of this inclusion?

The White Ravens 2021 would be available at the IYL Frankfurt Book Fair booth and also at the virtual Bologna Children’s Book Fair in June. It is a curated collection of international books intended to promote quality in children’s book publishing. Throughout the year, language and children’s book specialists monitor noteworthy 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 storytelling and illustration, and “innovative approaches or designs”.

The largest collection in the world

This is not the first time a stock 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 the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, was in 2018 White Ravens. This is the heartbreaking tale of how 17-year-old Kian delos Santos was killed by police on suspicion of drug involvement. Who can forget his heartbreaking plea to be spared because he still had an exam tomorrow?

The selected books become 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 beginnings in 1949.

The White Ravens 2021 catalog

Among the activities of the IYL is a scholarship program which was attended by two authors for Filipino children: Eugene Evasco and Christine Bellen, who certainly did not mind learning in such an enchanting environment.

The White Ravens 2021 can be downloaded as a PDF file from the IYL website (

Special distinction

In late September, another children’s book from the Philippines won a special award. “The Pencil That Wouldn’t Write”, written by Mary Ann Ordinary and illustrated by Beth Parrocha, published by ABC Educational Development Center, won the first prize in the 2021 International Indie Children’s Book Cover Award. The book competed with 152 entries from around the world.

This award appears to be quarterly and only focuses on the book cover. The initiative of such an award is to “provide support and services to self-contained, hybrid and small print authors”. Although the neighborhoods argue that the book cannot be judged by the cover, this recognition is very encouraging for Filipino illustrators like Parrocha.

“The pencil that didn’t write”

The award will allow the book to be advertised in more than 40 Facebook and Instagram groups across the United States, targeting groups of moms, groups of teachers, groups of librarians, book lovers and groups of children. It will be featured in the Magic Beans Bookstore in Los Angeles and on the popular YouTube channel Solster Nation. Anything to spread the good news is always welcome.

The Ordinary author-editor is also to be commended for the first Mindanao and Asean Children’s Literary Festival which he organized in partnership with the National Book Development Board. The month-long festival (running until November 8) featured storytelling in local languages ​​in Mindana and workshops on writing and children’s books. A deserving project that was slow in coming is finally moving beyond Metro Manila. – CONTRIBUTION INQ


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