A vibrant portrayal of an important figure.

PURA'S CUENTOS

HOW PURA BELPRÉ RESHAPED LIBRARIES WITH HER STORIES

A biography of the first Puerto Rican to be hired by the New York Public Library and, possibly, the first Afro-Latinx librarian in the United States.

Belpré grew up in Puerto Rico listening to stories, mainly from her abuela. She needed stories “like a mango tree needs sunshine.” After moving to New York City, where she lived in Harlem, Belpré was hired to work at the 135th Street branch library (now the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture). There, she was put in charge of storytime, but she could tell only stories printed in books. “But Pura knows that not all the stories worth telling are in books.” Abuela’s stories, stories from Puerto Rico, were not in books, and those were the ones she wanted to tell. She soon convinced her bosses to allow her to tell those stories; eventually she went on to tell her stories—and plenty of others—in libraries and auditoriums, in English and in Spanish, always reaching out to as many children as possible. In due course, those stories did become books—“because Pura Belpré always knew that many stories worth telling aren’t in books,” and she could change that. The accompanying illustrations are vibrant, with rich, saturated colors. Dynamic double-page illustrations often consist of vignettes that blend into one another, adding depth to the narration. Belpré is depicted with brown skin and dark hair. The children, though mostly having similar faces, represent a range of skin tones. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A vibrant portrayal of an important figure. (author's note, source notes, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4941-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world.

GRANDMA'S GARDENS

In an inviting picture book, Chelsea and Hillary Clinton share personal revelations on how gardening with a grandmother, a mother, and children shapes and nurtures a love and respect for nature, beauty, and a general philosophy for life.

Grandma Dorothy, the former senator, secretary of state, and presidential candidate’s mother, loved gardens, appreciating the multiple benefits they yielded for herself and her family. The Clinton women reminisce about their beloved forebear and all she taught them in a color-coded, alternating text, blue for Chelsea and green for Hillary. Via brief yet explicit remembrances, they share what they learned, observed, and most of all enjoyed in gardens with her. Each double-page spread culminates in a declarative statement set in italicized red text invoking Dorothy’s wise words. Gardens can be many things: places for celebration, discovery and learning, vehicles for teaching responsibility in creating beauty, home to wildlife large and small, a place to share stories and develop memories. Though operating from very personal experience rooted in class privilege, the mother-daughter duo mostly succeeds in imparting a universally significant message: Whether visiting a public garden or working in the backyard, generations can cultivate a lasting bond. Lemniscates uses an appropriately floral palette to evoke the gardens explored by these three white women. A Spanish edition, Los jardines de la abuela, publishes simultaneously; Teresa Mlawer’s translation is fluid and pleasing, in at least one case improving on the original.

Sage, soothing ideas for a busy, loud, sometimes-divisive world. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-11535-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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