A warm introduction to Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian in the New York Public Library.
In 1921, Belpré left her island home of Puerto Rico for New York City. There, she started work as a bilingual assistant in the public library. But where were the stories of her native land? “How lucky for the library that Pura has story seeds ready to plant and grow.” Eventually, not only did Belpré hold a popular bilingual story program, but also, finding there were no books available for children in Spanish, she wrote them. Traveling “from branch to branch, classroom to classroom, to churches and community centers,” Belpré planted “her story seeds in the hearts and minds of children new to this island who wish to remember la lengua y los colores of home.” Belpré’s story is told in rhythmic language with a good dose of (unitalicized) Spanish sprinkled throughout. Escobar’s vibrant illustrations are filled with details that help bring to life the story of this remarkable librarian. Belpré is portrayed with light brown skin. A closing note explains that today, the American Library Association honors her by presenting an annual award that bears her name to a Latinx writer and illustrator whose works celebrate the Latino cultural experience. Read together with The Storyteller’s Candle / La velita de los cuentos, by Lucía González and illustrated by Lulu Delacre (2008).
In Belpré, children will find an affirmation of the importance of seeing their own culture in books. (bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 4-9)