PLANTING STORIES

THE LIFE OF LIBRARIAN AND STORYTELLER PURA BELPRÉ

In Belpré, children will find an affirmation of the importance of seeing their own culture in books.

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)

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274868-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

FRIDA KAHLO AND HER ANIMALITOS

A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist.

Frida Kahlo’s strong affection for and identification with animals form the lens through which readers view her life and work in this picture-book biography.

Each two-page spread introduces one or more of her pets, comparing her characteristics to theirs and adding biographical details. Confusingly for young readers, the beginning pages reference pets she owned as an adult, yet the illustrations and events referred to come from earlier in her life. Bonito the parrot perches in a tree overlooking young Frida and her family in her childhood home and pops up again later, just before the first mention of Diego Rivera. Granizo, the fawn, another pet from her adult years, is pictured beside a young Frida and her father along with a description of “her life as a little girl.” The author’s note adds important details about Kahlo’s life and her significance as an artist, as well as recommending specific paintings that feature her beloved animals. Expressive acrylic paintings expertly evoke Kahlo’s style and color palette. While young animal lovers will identify with her attachment to her pets and may enjoy learning about the Aztec origins of her Xolo dogs and the meaning of turkeys in ancient Mexico, the book may be of most interest to those who already have an interest in Kahlo’s life.

A supplemental rather than introductory book on the great artist. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4269-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

BASKETBALL DREAMS

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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