Planting stories The life of librarian and storyteller Pura Belpré

Anika Denise

Book - 2019

"From the author of MONSTER TRUCK and STARRING CARMEN comes a gorgeous and lyrical story about Pura Belpré, a Puerto Rican librarian who changed the world"--

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Subjects
Genres
Biographies
Picture books
Published
New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers [2019]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Audience
4-8.
K-3.
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN
9780062748683
0062748688
Main Author
Anika Denise (author)
Other Authors
Paola Escobar (illustrator)
Review by Booklist Reviews

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. Grades K-3. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

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 a library assistant, Belpré makes puppets to enhance her storytelling performances, which introduce the elegant cockroach Martina, the dashing mouse Pérez, and other beloved characters from Puerto Rican folklore, then goes on to publish the tales for wider distribution. Colombian illustrator Escobar represents the biography's central image of "planting" story seeds in detailed, retro-style spreads with flowers that float around Belpre as she weaves her tales ("Her eyes dance! Her voice sings!"). Sepia tones contribute a feeling of age and a sense of warmth. Denise plants an idea of her own—that telling stories is a crucial activity for keeping culture alive. Ages 4–8. Author's agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Jr./Folio Literary Management. (Jan.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

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 Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Describes the life and accomplishments of Pura Belprâe, a Puerto Rican librarian who introduced the folk tales of her native island first to the children of New York and afterwards throughout the country.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A lyrical picture book portrait of New York City's first Puerto Rican librarian describes how Pura Belpré moved to America in 1921 and became an influential writer and puppeteer who is celebrated for championing bilingual literature. 50,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"From the author of MONSTER TRUCK and STARRING CARMEN comes a gorgeous and lyrical story about Pura Belprâe, a Puerto Rican librarian who changed the world"--

Review by Publisher Summary 4

RECIPIENT OF THE PURA BELPRÉ HONOR * A Today Show's Best Kids' Books of 2019 * Indie Next List Pick * Junior Library Guild Selection * 'An appealing tribute and successful remedy to the lack of titles about the groundbreaking librarian...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.'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

Review by Publisher Summary 5

RECIPIENT OF THE PURA BELPRÉ HONOR * A Today Show's Best Kids' Books of 2019 * Indie Next List Pick * Junior Library Guild Selection * “An appealing tribute and successful remedy to the lack of titles about the groundbreaking librarian...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.“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