Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre
Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre

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Annotation: Presents a lyrical story about the famous Puerto Rican librarian who changed the world.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #173161
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2019
Edition Date: 2019
Illustrator: Escobar, Paola,
Pages: 40
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-274868-8 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-3566-4
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-274868-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-3566-7
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2017057329
Dimensions: 28 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Denise and Escobar pay tribute to the legacy of librarian Pura Belpré in this vibrant picture-book biography. Adults familiar with Belpré's story will immediately compare this book to The Storyteller's Candle (2008), by Lucía González, but this version adds a contemporary feel through the brilliantly detailed, brightly colored, whimsical illustrations and smoothly integrated linguistic code-switching. Here readers watch as Pura arrives in New York in 1921, just for a visit, filled with the stories her abuela told her in Puerto Rico. She stays, however, and finds work as a seamstress but yearns to do something else. As luck would have it, her chance comes when the public library needs a bilingual assistant. Thus begins Pura Belpré's career as the storyteller with puppets and a candle, around whose feet children sat listening to stories of Puerto Rico, including ones Pura writes herself. Planting Stories is a glossy immigration tale of dreams coming true, and the lyrical language lends itself to being read aloud.
Kirkus Reviews
A warm introduction to Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian in the New York Public Library.In 1921, Belpré left her island home of Puerto Rico for New York City. There, she started work as a bilingual assistant in the public library. But where were the stories of her native land? "How lucky for the library that Pura has story seeds ready to plant and grow." Eventually, not only did Belpré hold a popular bilingual story program, but also, finding there were no books available for children in Spanish, she wrote them. Traveling "from branch to branch, classroom to classroom, to churches and community centers," Belpré planted "her story seeds in the hearts and minds of children new to this island who wish to remember la lengua y los colores of home." Belpré's story is told in rhythmic language with a good dose of (unitalicized) Spanish sprinkled throughout. Escobar's vibrant illustrations are filled with details that help bring to life the story of this remarkable librarian. Belpré is portrayed with light brown skin. A closing note explains that today, the American Library Association honors her by presenting an annual award that bears her name to a Latinx writer and illustrator whose works celebrate the Latino cultural experience. Read together with The Storyteller's Candle / La velita de los cuentos, by Lucía González and illustrated by Lulu Delacre (2008).In Belpré, children will find an affirmation of the importance of seeing their own culture in books. (bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 4-9)
Publishers Weekly
Readers may know Pura Belpré as the name of an award given to books about the Latin American cultural experience. But who was Belpré herself? Denise (Starring Carmen!) celebrates the first Latina New York City librarian, born in 1899, who seeds the folktales of her native Puerto Rico in her new home. As
School Library Journal Starred Review
K-Gr 3 A picture book biography of one of the most significant and inspiring figures in library history. Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City, initially arrived in Manhattan to attend her sister's wedding. Intrigued perhaps by the "hustle and bustle" of this "new island," she decided to stay, finding temporary work as a seamstress. Belpré truly found her calling when she took a position as a bilingual assistant (the text notes that was she was, in fact, trilingual) at a neighborhood library, and went on to transform library services through culturally diverse storytelling, published books, and targeted outreach. Denise sprinkles her lyrical verse with Spanish, and emphasizes Belpré's love of stories, plucking the title of the book from her desire "to be like Johnny Appleseed...plant my story seeds across the land." Escobar's warm illustrations enliven the subject and carry the motif by depicting Belpré in impeccably stylish outfits and accessories detailed with floral patterns. Because of the composition style, readers are given only brief depictions of significant moments in Belpré's personal and professional life, but Denise provides a detailed author's note, summarizing Belpré's lasting impact, and includes a great amount of back matter. VERDICT An appealing tribute and successful remedy to the lack of titles about the groundbreaking librarian. This book pairs nicely with Lucia Gonzalez's The Storyteller's Candle , and is a must-have for all libraries. Jessica Agudelo, New York Public Library
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Word Count: 570
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: P-2
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.0 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 198342 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.6 / points:3.0 / quiz:Q76568
Lexile: 860L
Guided Reading Level: N

An Indie Next List Pick!

“An appealing tribute and successful remedy to the lack of titles about the groundbreaking librarian. This book pairs nicely with Lucia Gonzalez’s The Storyteller’s Candle, and is a must-have for all libraries.” School Library Journal (starred review)

An inspiring picture book biography of storyteller, puppeteer, and New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian, who championed bilingual literature.

When she came to America in 1921, Pura Belpré carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular retellings into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and storytellers continue to share her tales and celebrate Pura’s legacy.

Brought to colorful life by Paola Escobar’s elegant and exuberant illustrations and Anika Aldamuy Denise’s lyrical text, this gorgeous book is perfect for the pioneers in your life.

Informative backmatter and suggested further reading included.

A Spanish-language edition, Sembrando historias: Pura Belpré: bibliotecaria y narradora de cuentos, is also available.

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