We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2019 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
I have been on the lookout for this book for the longest time, and I am so excited to find it in our library. Hence, we are extending the concept of sisterhood to include the larger community that undoubtedly benefited from Pura Belpre’s passion for storytelling. Fats has written a review of this beautiful picturebook here, also for Nonfiction Wednesday, here.
Planting Stories: The Life Of Librarian And Storyteller Pura Belpré
Written by Anika Aldamuy Denise Illustrations by Paola Escobar
Published by Harper Collins (2019).
ISBN: 0062748688 (ISBN13: 9780062748683)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
Pura belonged to a family of storytellers in Puerto Rico. Her sister’s wedding brought her for a visit to New York in 1921 – a place that she eventually chose to become her adopted home.
Initially, Pura worked for a garment factory. Around the same time, the library was also looking for a bilingual assistant – the perfect opportunity for Pura. I do believe that stars align when things are meant to happen, as they do. Pura blossomed in her new job – which most likely than not she did not really perceive as work at all. She endeavoured to bring more stories to young people (and parents, too) who were hungry for cuentos different from what they are used to.
While I do know of Pura Belpre, this is the first time that I finally learned of her immigrant story, and her pathways to becoming a children’s book author. We, unfortunately, do not have a copy of The Storyteller’s Candle in our library, although I believe I may have read it while I was serving as a Research Fellow at the International Youth Library in Munich back in 2016.
Pura’s story is one rooted in a sense of community coupled with a fierce sense of pride for one’s origins and the overwhelming desire to plant seeds of stories fostering love, compassion, and our shared humanity. It reminded me a little bit of Dreamers by Yuyi Morales.
The layout and design of the book was masterful, the storytelling beautifully bilingual without being too intimidating (I could figure out what the words meant through the context), and the art gloriously lush. Definitely a book that I would unreservedly recommend for you to add to your library.
#WomenReadWomen2019: United States of America (Anika Aldamuy Denise) and Colombia (Paola Escobar)
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