Undercover Latina, written by Aya De León, and published by Candlewick Press, is the winner in the Books for Older Children category.
Undercover Latina, written by Aya De León, is a fast-paced middle-grade novel narrated and centered on 14-year-old Andréa Hernández-Baldoquín, who has been introduced to the spy world by her parents. Her whole family works for the Factory, an international organization of spies whose mission is to protect people of color. Although the Hernández-Baldoquín family typically go on missions together, this story is all about Andréa’s first solo mission. She and her mother must leave her father and brother behind because only Andréa and her mom can pass for white. Andréa straightens her hair and assumes the identity of Andrea Burke, a white girl. Her mission: befriend the estranged son of a white nationalist. Andréa’s assignment doesn’t mean just changing her appearance. She must also quickly learn about her target’s interests, comic books, and gaming. This story highlights Andréa’s journey of trying not to blow her cover by being true to herself, all while discussing issues of colorism in the Latine community, the threat of white supremacy, and handling a first crush, who happens to be her target’s Latino best friend. Readers are enthralled as they continue turning pages to see if Andréa can remain undercover, code-switch, and actually thwart a terrorist.
Author: Aya De León
Award: 2023 Winner Book for Older Children