Tuesday, May 12, 2020

PLANTING STORIES: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre' by Anika Aldamuy Denise. Illus. by Paola Escobar. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2019. 32p.  ISBN 978-00627486803 hc. $17.99     Gr. K-3        J 921

The story opens in New York City in 1921 with the arrival of Pura Belpre' who came to visit her sister.  The native of Puerto Rico was enchanted by the bustling city, and decided to stay awhile.  She worked in a garment factory until the public library advertised for a bilingual assistant.  It was a perfect fit for Pura, who spoke Spanish, French, and English. Her favorite part of the library was the children's room, where she could be found retelling the folktales handed down from her grandmother. She soon made puppets to repeat those stories visually and bilingually. Through her community work, she met her musician husband and traveled with him for almost forty years, writing down the stories her grandmother told. The books, written in Spanish, were her gift to the immigrant children of New York.  Pura's first book was "Martina & Perez," a love story about a cockroach and mouse.  The illustrator incorporates images of the literary pair throughout the book, which extends to the end papers.  Pura died in 1982, but each year the American Library Association recognizes Latinx authors and illustrators in her name with the Pura Belpre' Award. Her advocacy for diverse children's books lives on today.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

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