Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

Anika Aldamuy Denise, illus. by Paola Escobar. HarperCollins, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-274868-3
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.)
Reviewed on: 10/15/2018
Release date: 01/01/2019
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 40 pages - 978-1-4002-1264-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-6620-2004-9
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