DANBURY, Conn. -- Danbury resident Jill Barletti, an award-winning author and publisher of bilingual and single-language personalized children’s books, recently took home awards at the International Latino Book Awards ceremony at California State University.
“Of all the awards that my books have won, the ILBAs mean the most to me, as I am competing with authors from a variety of different countries, and many authors whose first language is Spanish," Barletti said. "And good storytelling is one of the main criteria.”
At the affair, Barletti’s second personalized children’s book, "The Big Soccer Game," won five awards:
- Best Children’s Fiction Picture Book – Bilingual (First Place)
- Best Children’s Picture Book – Portuguese, originally in another language (First Place)
- Best Children’s Fiction Picture Book – Spanish (Second Place)
- Best Latino-Focused Children’s Picture Book – Bilingual (Second Place)
- Most Inspirational Children’s Picture Book – Spanish (Third Place)
"The Big Soccer Game" is published by Snowflake Stories, LLC, which was founded by Barletti in 2013. Snowflake Stories publishes, markets and sells her own line of customizable, bilingual and single-language personalized children’s books.
"The Big Soccer Game" tells the story of a young soccer star who is nervous about an upcoming playoff game. Throughout the story, the child receives advice from loved ones on how to calm those nerves. After taking the advice to heart, the child scores the game-winning goal.
Barletti wrote the book with illustrator Jelena Brezovec. Like the duo’s first book, "Dance Recital," which was published in 2015, this soccer-themed storybook is customizable. The appearance of the characters are tailored so that the entire cast closely resembles that child and up to five of his or her family members.
Also like the dance book for girls, the soccer book is printed in one or two of five languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian.
Earlier in the year, "The Big Soccer Game" won an honorable mention from Foreword Review’s IndieFab Book of the Year Awards and a first place book award from the National Indie Excellence Awards.
This year for the ILBA, books were submitted from 18 countries. Only Latinos can submit books in English; because Barletti is not Latina, her books compete in the categories of bilingual (English/Spanish), Spanish only and Portuguese.
Previous winners of the International Latino Book Awards include world-renowned authors such as Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel García Márquez and Paolo Coelho, public figures such as Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and journalist Jorge Ramos, as well as entertainers such as Gloria Estefan, Carlos Santana and Celia Cruz.
Barletti attended the awards ceremony for the ILBA last year, too; her first book, "Dance Recital," received a second and a third place award.
However, the Danbury author said this year’s event was even more exciting because of the opportunity to rub shoulders with several famous actors as well as well-known Latino authors.
Edward James Olmos, who starred in the television series "Miami Vice" and in the movies "Blade Runner" and "Stand and Deliver," gave the keynote address at the gala.
Pepe Serna presented Barletti with one of her two first-place awards. Serna is most famous for playing the role of Angel Fernández in "Scarface."
Barletti is now at work creating her third book, which is about baseball, and will be published within the next two years.
In April, Barletti, along with her web developer James Stone, won an industry award for her company's website.
More information about the line of personalized books for kids is available on the company website.