LAPL / Kids Path

FOCAL Award Winners

The FOCAL Award is presented annually to an author or illustrator for a creative work which enriches a child's appreciation for and understanding of California.

FOCAL Award Winners by Year

2013
Williams-Garcia, Rita
One Crazy Summer X
In the summer of 1968, after traveling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.

2012
Rocklin, Joanne
One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street X
The last remaining orange tree on a Southern California street brings together neighbors of all ages as they face their problems and anxieties, including the possibility that a mysterious stranger is a threat to their tree.

2011
Novesky, Amy
Me, Frida x 92 K12No
Artist Frida Kahlo finds her own voice and style when her famous husband, Diego Rivera, is commissioned to paint a mural in San Francisco, California, in the 1930s and she finds herself exploring the city on her own.

2010
Chin, Jason
Redwoods x582 C539
A young city boy, riding the subway, finds an abandoned book about redwoods and finds himself in the very forest described in the book.

2009
Lee, Milly.
Landed XZ.
After leaving his village in southeastern China, twelve-year-old Sun is held at Angel Island, San Francisco, before being released to join his father, a merchant living in the area.

2008
Ryan, Pam Munoz.
Esperanza Rising X
Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression.

2007
Patron, Susan.
The Higher Power of Lucky X
Fearing that her legal guardian plans to abandon her to return to France, ten-year-old aspiring scientist Lucky Trimble determines to run away while also continuing to seek the Higher Power that will bring stability to her life.

2006
Choldenko, Gennifer.
Al Capone Does My Shirts. x
A twelve-year-old boy named Moose moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 when guards' families were housed there, and has to contend with his extraordinary new environment in addition to life with his autistic sister.

2005
Woods, Brenda.
The Red Rose Box. x
In 1953, Leah Hopper dreams of leaving the poverty and segregation of her home in Sulphur, Louisiana, and when Aunt Olivia sends train tickets to Los Angeles as part of her tenth birthday present, Leah gets a first taste of freedom.

2004
Wood, Frances.
Daughter of Madrugada. x
After the United States wins the war with Mexico in 1848, life on her Mexican family's ranch in California is greatly changed for thirteen-year-old Cesa.

2003
Alarcón, Francisco X.
Iguanas in the Snow and Other Winter Poems. S x 811 A321-3
A family celebrates winter--by the seashore, in the magical city of San Francisco, and in the ancient redwood forests of the Sierras.

2002
Fleischman, Sid.
Bandit's Moon. x
Twelve-year-old Annyrose relates her adventures with Joaquín Murieta and his band of outlaws in the California gold-mining region during the mid-1800s.

2001
Stanley, Dr. Jerry.
Hurry Freedom: African Americans in Gold Rush California. x979 S788
Recounts the history of African Americans in California during the Gold Rush while focusing on the life and work of Mifflin Gibbs.

2000
Jimenez, Dr. Francisco.
The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child. x
In this collection of autobiographical stories, Panchito really wants to go to school, but he and his family are constantly moving from farm to farm in 1940s California.

1999
Bunting, Eve.
So Far From The Sea. xz
When seven-year-old Laura and her family visit Grandfather's grave at the Manzanar War Relocation Center, the Japanese American child leaves behind a special symbol.

1998
Cushman, Karen.
The Ballad Of Lucy Whipple. x
In 1849, twelve-year-old California Morning Whipple, who renames herself Lucy, is distraught when her mother moves the family from Massachusetts to a rough California mining town.

1997
Herrera, Juan Felipe.
Calling The Doves: El Canto De Las Palomas. S xz
The author recalls his childhood in the mountains and valleys of California with his farmworker parents who inspired him with poetry and song.

1996
Klass, David.
California Blue. x
When seventeen-year-old John Rodgers discovers a new sub-species of butterfly that may necessitate closing the mill where his dying father works, he and his father find themselves on opposite sides of the environmental conflict.

1995
Nelson, Theresa.
Earthshine. x
Both Slim and Isaiah have parents who are dying of AIDS – Isaiah looks for miracles in the "Hungry Valley" north of Los Angeles, but Slim is less optimistic.

1994
Lattimore, Deborah Nourse.
Frida Maria. xz
Because she does not sew, cook, or dance like a "proper señorita," Frida cannot please her mother until she saves the day at the fiesta with her special talent.

1993
Stanley, Dr. Jerry.
Children Of The Dust Bowl. x370 S788
There was no school at the Weedpatch Federal Labor Camp for the children of migrant workers from the Dust Bowl -- until Superintendent Leo Hart and fifty kids built their own in a nearby field.

1992
Yep, Laurence.
Child Of The Owl. x
A twelve-year-old girl who knows little about her Chinese heritage is sent to live with her grandmother in San Francisco's Chinatown.

1991
Blumberg, Rhoda.
Great American Gold Rush. x979 B658
People came from all over the world to pursue the dream of discovering gold in California in the mid 19 th -century, and this book tells the story using primary sources such as letters, diaries, newspapers, posters, cartoons and advertisements.

1990
Harris, Mark Johnathan.
Come The Morning.x
Ben and his family find themselves living among the poor and homeless when they leave El Paso for Los Angeles to look for Ben's father.

1989
Cameron, Eleanor.
Room Made Of Windows. x
12-year-old Julia observes the people around her in Berkeley, California, as she makes lists of words in her "Book of Strangenesses" and dreams of becoming a writer.

1988
Houston, Jeanne W.
Farewell To Manzanar. x92 H8425
During World War II, seven-year-old Jeanne Wakatsuki and her family are forced to move into the Manzanar War Relocation Center, where their lives are completely changed.

1987
Cleary, Beverly.
Dear Mr. Henshaw. x
In his letters to his favorite author, ten-year-old Leigh reveals his problems in coping with his parents' divorce, being the new boy in school, and generally finding his own place in the world.

1986
Uchida, Yoshiko.
A Jar Of Dreams. x
Times are hard for everyone in 1935 in Berkeley, California, but for eleven-year-old Rinko being Japanese is an added burden…

1985
Cameron, Eleanor.
Julia And The Hand Of God. x
A series of crises lead 11-year-old Julia to see her family in a different light and help her reaffirm her ambition to be a writer.

1984
Yep, Laurence.
Dragonwings. x
In the early twentieth century a young Chinese boy joins his father in San Francisco and helps him realize his dream of making a flying machine.

1983
Fleischman, Sid.
By The Great Horn Spoon! x
The California gold rush is on and Jack Flagg and his butler, Praiseworthy set out to save pretty Aunt Arabella's fortune.

1982
Gates, Doris.
Blue Willow. x
Ten-year-old Janey, whose family is migrating around California to find work in the 1930s, treasures a single blue willow plate that belonged to her mother, until she discovers something she would trade it for.

1981
O'Dell, Scott.
Island Of The Blue Dolphins. x
Left alone on a beautiful but isolated island off the coast of California, a young Indian girl spends eighteen years, not only merely surviving through her enormous courage and self-reliance, but also finding a measure of happiness in her solitary life.

1980
Politi, Leo.
Pedro, The Angel Of Olvera Street. xz
Pedro joins in the Christmas celebrations by leading the Posada procession through his Los Angeles community.

 

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