Reviewed by Dora M. Guzmán
DESCRIPTION OF THE BOOK: Follow la vida y el legado of Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City.
When she came to America in 1921, Pura carried the cuentos folkloricos 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 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.
This portrait of the influential librarian, author, and puppeteer reminds us of the power of storytelling and the extraordinary woman who opened doors and championed bilingual literature.
MY TWO CENTS: Another bilingual favorite to add to the informational biography shelf! Pura Belpré is widely known for the book award created in her honor through the American Library Association. Every year, the Pura Belpré Award is one that recognizes Latinx authors and illustrators that reflect the Latinx culture in their picture books or novels.
Pura Belpré had seeds of determination and passion that followed her from Puerto Rico. That same blessing led her to work in a library and share her stories with children, however, she quickly discovered that many of her own stories, reflective of her Puerto Rican culture, were not readily available to the community. Therefore, she begins to share her stories with children and then begins to write down all her stories for others to read. Soon after, she is telling her stories all around the world. This biographical account of Pura’s life story and life’s work is nothing short of inspirational. Pura unequivocally shares her passion for storytelling to all so that her stories and culture are not lost. Despite losing her best friend and husband, she returns to the library scene while also inspiring others, and sees her seeds of storytelling and Latinx culture, come to fruition. Continue reading.
Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise
Published by HarperCollins on June 5, 2020
Reading Level: Grade K, Grades 1-2
Review Source: Latinx in Kid Lit
Publisher's Synopsis: RECIPIENT OF THE PURA BELPRÉ HONOR
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.
“Anika Aldamuy Denise’s intimate telling captures the magical, folk-tale feeling of Belpré’s own stories. Her lyrical text, sprinkled like fairy dust with Spanish words, begs to be read aloud, while Paola Escobar’s stylishly detailed and warmly expressive illustrations capture the joy of sharing stories.” — New York Times Book Review