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A vibrant portrayal of an important figure.

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 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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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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An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter.

The latest of many picture books about the young heroine from Pakistan, this one is narrated by Malala herself, with a frame that is accessible to young readers.

Malala introduces her story using a television show she used to watch about a boy with a magic pencil that he used to get himself and his friends out of trouble. Readers can easily follow Malala through her own discovery of troubles in her beloved home village, such as other children not attending school and soldiers taking over the village. Watercolor-and-ink illustrations give a strong sense of setting, while gold ink designs overlay Malala’s hopes onto her often dreary reality. The story makes clear Malala’s motivations for taking up the pen to tell the world about the hardships in her village and only alludes to the attempt on her life, with a black page (“the dangerous men tried to silence me. / But they failed”) and a hospital bracelet on her wrist the only hints of the harm that came to her. Crowds with signs join her call before she is shown giving her famous speech before the United Nations. Toward the end of the book, adult readers may need to help children understand Malala’s “work,” but the message of holding fast to courage and working together is powerful and clear.

An inspiring introduction to the young Nobel Peace Prize winner and a useful conversation starter. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-31957-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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