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40th FOCAL AWARD LUNCHEON, Honoring the Book Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix

By Carolinearnoldtravel @CarolineSArnold

40th FOCAL AWARD LUNCHEON, honoring the book Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix

Illustrator Man One, and authors Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee of Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix, winner of the 2019 FOCAL Award

Saturday, December 14th was the 40th FOCAL award luncheon, a gala event which, each year, honors a children’s book celebrating California. FOCAL (Friends of Children and Literature) is the support group of the Los Angeles Public Library Children’s Book Department. I enjoy attending every year and this was no exception.

40th FOCAL AWARD LUNCHEON, honoring the book Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix

Caroline Gill, President of FOCAL

The 2019 FOCAL award went to the wonderful picture book Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix, written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June Jo Lee and illustrated by Man One. Both authors and the illustrator came to the luncheon and told how they worked together to create the book in an entertaining and informative presentation. It was great to see how they had captured the look and feel of LA’s diverse communities and the life and personality of Chef Roy Choi.

40th FOCAL AWARD LUNCHEON, honoring the book Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix

Art teacher Ray Moszkowics and his students from Noble Middle School

The luncheon was held at the Border Grill in downtown Los Angeles, a restaurant conveniently located just one block from the Central Library. Tables were decorated with creative centerpieces made the students of art teacher Ray Moszkowicz at Nobel Middle School. They depicted tiny replicas of Roy Choi’s famous food trucks amid the towering skyscrapers of Los Angeles.

40th FOCAL AWARD LUNCHEON, honoring the book Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix

Essay winner Elizabeth Bijleveld and one of the centerpieces

Also on display were the puppets made by Jesse Kingsley and Moira Lael Macdonald. This year there were four puppets–one each for the authors and illustrator, and another for the library collection. During the beginning of the luncheon a review of all the previous FOCAL winners and accompanying puppets played on a screen behind the podium.

40th FOCAL AWARD LUNCHEON, honoring the book Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix

Jesse Kingsley, creator of the Chef Roy Choi puppets

Highlights of the program included the welcome by FOCAL President Caroline Gill, the election of new officers, recognition of three founding members of FOCAL, Sandy Schuckett, Lara Clardy and Renny Day, who are still actively involved in the FOCAL programs, a delicious lunch, the reading of the essays by contest winners Antonio Chow, Elizabeth M.C. Bijleveld and Ariana Perez, the introduction of the award winning authors and illustrator by Meredith McGowan, the FOCAL Award Committee chair, the puppet presentation, and of course the presentations by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, June Jo Lee and Man One.

40th FOCAL AWARD LUNCHEON, honoring the book Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix

Student essay winners Ariana Perez, grade 8, Elizabeth Bijleveld, grade 5, and Antonio Chow, grade 4

Unfortunately, the restaurant was unusually busy and noisy, which often made it difficult to hear, especially when the contest winners were reading their essays. The essays will be published in the next issue of FOCAL Points, providing another chance to appreciate the excellent work done by the students and their teachers.

40th FOCAL AWARD LUNCHEON, honoring the book Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix

June Jo Lee

In order to be awarded the FOCAL book award, the book must be of the highest literary and artistic quality, and must have California content. I know how hard it is to choose a winner–I served on the committee for four years. This year’s choice is excellent and a fitting book to celebrate FOCAL’s 40th anniversary.

40th FOCAL AWARD LUNCHEON, honoring the book Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix

Founding FOCAL members Renny Day, Lara Clardy and Sandy Schuckett



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