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Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

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Follow la vida y legado of Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City. When she came to America in 1921, Pura carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular stories into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have g Follow la vida y legado of Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City. When she came to America in 1921, Pura carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular stories into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and cuentistas continue to share her stories and celebrate Pura’s legacy. This portrait of the influential librarian, author, and puppeteer reminds us of the power of storytelling and the extraordinary woman who opened doors and championed bilingual literature.


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Follow la vida y legado of Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City. When she came to America in 1921, Pura carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular stories into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have g Follow la vida y legado of Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City. When she came to America in 1921, Pura carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular stories into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and cuentistas continue to share her stories and celebrate Pura’s legacy. This portrait of the influential librarian, author, and puppeteer reminds us of the power of storytelling and the extraordinary woman who opened doors and championed bilingual literature.

30 review for Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

  1. 4 out of 5

    Laura Harrison

    The last few years have produced the most remarkable and exquisite children's literature biographies. Planting Stories is probably my favorite. Above all of the titles I have purchased and reviewed through the years. I haven't been this excited about a picture book since Dreamers by Yuyi Morales. Not only is the subject, Pura Belpre (heck-there is an important children's literature award named after her), incredibly important, the illustrations are some of the most detailed and beautiful that I The last few years have produced the most remarkable and exquisite children's literature biographies. Planting Stories is probably my favorite. Above all of the titles I have purchased and reviewed through the years. I haven't been this excited about a picture book since Dreamers by Yuyi Morales. Not only is the subject, Pura Belpre (heck-there is an important children's literature award named after her), incredibly important, the illustrations are some of the most detailed and beautiful that I have ever seen in children's literature. It is only January but Planting Seeds may be one of the best books of 2019.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    Author Anika Aldamuy Denise and illustrator Paola Escobar explore the life of celebrated storyteller, librarian and author Pura Belpré in this lovely new picture-book biography. The first Puerto Rican to work at the New York Public Library, Belpré hosted storytelling sessions in which she shared the folklore of her native island with young children, eventually going on to publish many of those tales. The Pura Belpré Award, which is given by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), Author Anika Aldamuy Denise and illustrator Paola Escobar explore the life of celebrated storyteller, librarian and author Pura Belpré in this lovely new picture-book biography. The first Puerto Rican to work at the New York Public Library, Belpré hosted storytelling sessions in which she shared the folklore of her native island with young children, eventually going on to publish many of those tales. The Pura Belpré Award, which is given by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and which recognizes outstanding children's books depicting the Latino cultural experience in the United States, is named in her honor... As a long time admirer of Pura Belpré, one who has read almost all of her work, I was delighted when Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré came in to work. I recognized the author as the creator of Starring Carmen and its sequels, which I have enjoyed, and I found the cover-art appealing. The narrative here was engaging and informative - I particularly liked the mention of Perez and Martina ! - and the illustrations simply gorgeous. Paola Escobar utilizes a lovely color palette, and has a charming style. There is an author's note, and a list of sources and reading ideas at the rear. All in all, an educational and entertaining work of picture-book biography, one I would recommend to fellow Pura Belpré fans, and to young book and story lovers.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Margie

    More times than readers can count, they find answers in books to questions they haven't yet asked. Several years ago, in attendance at a storytelling class, it was suggested to begin and close a storytelling event with a candle or lamp. When the lamp is lit, the magic of storytelling starts. After the final tale is told, the flame is extinguished. Listeners are asked to make three wishes; one for someone anywhere in the world who needs it, one for someone they love (including pets) and the final More times than readers can count, they find answers in books to questions they haven't yet asked. Several years ago, in attendance at a storytelling class, it was suggested to begin and close a storytelling event with a candle or lamp. When the lamp is lit, the magic of storytelling starts. After the final tale is told, the flame is extinguished. Listeners are asked to make three wishes; one for someone anywhere in the world who needs it, one for someone they love (including pets) and the final wish for themselves. They are, after all, very important people. As the flame is blown out, the wishes travel out in the world. Decades ago a wonderful parent gave me my storytelling lamp with a wick to light as it coils in oil in the body. It wasn't until reading a new release yesterday, the possible origin of lighting a storytelling flame was presented to me. Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, January 15, 2018) written by Anika Aldamuy Denise with illustrations by Paola Escobar depicts a marvelous portrait of a woman whose star will remain shining. Story was her gift. It still grows. My full recommendation: https://librariansquest.blogspot.com/...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jillian Heise

    A beautiful book with a beautiful story from about the life of Pura Belpre.

  5. 5 out of 5

    KC

    The fantastic story behind the wonderful and talented Puerto Rican native storyteller and librarian, Pura Belpré

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    (3.5) I loved learning about Pura Belpré and her passion for sharing Puerto Rican stories with her community, and while the illustrations were lovely, they seemed a little flat to me on the page.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Karina

    Rating: 5 Stars: ★★★★★ Planting Stories is a beautiful & heartwarming picture book that follows Pura Belpré when she moves from Puerto Rico to New York & continues to spread her love of stories! 📚✨ Not only is the art detailed and magnificent, but it also brings Belpré's story to life! Belpré is an avid storyteller who grew up sharing the tales her abuela told her! So, now in New York, she finds her love of stories taking her on a journey to become a librarian (the 1st bilingual assistant) Rating: 5 Stars: ★★★★★ Planting Stories is a beautiful & heartwarming picture book that follows Pura Belpré when she moves from Puerto Rico to New York & continues to spread her love of stories! 📚✨ Not only is the art detailed and magnificent, but it also brings Belpré's story to life! Belpré is an avid storyteller who grew up sharing the tales her abuela told her! So, now in New York, she finds her love of stories taking her on a journey to become a librarian (the 1st bilingual assistant), bring more latinx folktales & stories to the NYC Public Library, spark a love for stories/storytelling, even become an author herself to bring her tales from Puerto Rico to many more readers! This is a delightful picture book and easily one of my favorites of the year! Highly recommend this wonderful book that shares the story of Pura Belpré!!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chance Lee

    A wonderful story about a woman important to libraries, children's literature, and the art of storytelling. And my god the illustrations are electrifyingly good.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amy Layton

    This book was recommended to me by a fellow librarian, and given that it was just published, our academic library didn't yet have it.  And, considering our academic library serves a large community of library science students, I figured that we could get away with purchasing more resources about librarians.  So we did!   Planting Stories is a beautiful, biographical tale about Pura Belpre who made space for herself and her culture in her library.  The focus is more on her work as a librarian rath This book was recommended to me by a fellow librarian, and given that it was just published, our academic library didn't yet have it.  And, considering our academic library serves a large community of library science students, I figured that we could get away with purchasing more resources about librarians.  So we did!   Planting Stories is a beautiful, biographical tale about Pura Belpre who made space for herself and her culture in her library.  The focus is more on her work as a librarian rather than her as a wife or parent, which was just...incredible.  Finally, a biography about a specific aspect of a person's life that doesn't completely shift focus into her home life!   Not only that, but the illustrations are absolutely beautiful--they're colorful, evocative, bright, joyful.  I'm going to definitely keep an eye on this book as the year continues.  I think this book will make its way into award committee meetings, either for its nonfiction genre or for its illustrations.  I mean, maybe it's my own bias of absolute love for this book, but I also think that this book, if more widely recognized, will take the literary world by storm.  I'm excited to see where it goes! Review cross-listed here!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Katie Lawrence

    This was just wonderful! A perfect book to read at the beginning of a Belpré unit but also a wonderful biography about using your strengths, storytelling, culture and language to make a difference in your community. I loved the illustrations and learning about Pura Belpré. Made me proud to be a part of the profession!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    This is the kind of picture book biography that belongs on any librarian’s shelves, not only because the illustrations (and endpapers!) are absolutely gorgeous, but because the story of Pura Belpre’s lasting impact on children’s librarianship and the Latinx community is both a wonder and an inspiration. My favorite picture book bio featuring a librarian to date!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Mcbroom

    Story of Pura Belpre who came from Puerto Rico to New York City and starts out at New York Public Library. Hence there she realizes there are no Puerto Rican stories so she becomes one of the top storytellers. Illustrations are colorful and bright!

  13. 4 out of 5

    J.D. Spero

    By keeping alive the stories of her homeland, Pura Belpre touched the lives of so many. Well researched and from the heart, Denise plants seeds of her own with this inspiring story of an immigrant's gift to America's canon of multicultural storytelling. Escobar’s illustrations are elegant and as lush and vibrant as the language they bring to life. An important addition to ALL libraries—in town, in school, and at home.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Adriana

    gorgeous illustrations beautiful story

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hannahlily

    The art is phenomenal. Wish the text weren't quite so vague.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emma (Miss Print)

    Very good. Very beautifully illustrated. But a bit text heavy if I'm being honest.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Terrific pb bio of a storyteller, librarian, and puppeteer who brought Puerto Rican stories to the U.S. Lovely illustrations (and those endpapers!) and storytelling with a movement and cadence that brings Pura Belpre to life.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tj Shay

    Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre is the rare biography-ish book that is so extremely interesting and packs enough facts intermixed with ideas that expand your thoughts about the person. Thinking of the amazing Pura as planting stories for future generations is a revelation.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Aliza Werner

    Lush illustrations bring the warmth of Puerto Rico to the pages of this story of Pura Belpré, the first NYPL librarian from PR. The author and illustrator are both Latina #OwnVoices. One feature I loved most was all of the Spanish words sprinkled throughout the text. Using context clues, readers can figure out what those words translate to in English.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Earl

    Add this to your to-read list (pub date is January 15th 2019.) The life of famed Storyteller Pura Belpré is told fittingly in this bilingual nonfiction picture book- tracing her steps from her Puerto Rican homeland to the book-lined walls of the New York Public Library where she entertained patrons with stories and puppets. And when she couldn't find stories for the community she was serving, she wrote her own. Includes a timeline plus summaries of some of the stories she wrote.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sheela

    For those who want their elementary age kids to read more non fiction - get this book. For this kids who love library story hours - get this book and donate it to your school librarian. Make packets of story seeds and grow their love for reading, character development and create a writers nook so that hour kids can create their own stories. Get this book- read it to as many children as you can- encourage them to talk about the books they like, love and even hate. Start this wonderful discussions For those who want their elementary age kids to read more non fiction - get this book. For this kids who love library story hours - get this book and donate it to your school librarian. Make packets of story seeds and grow their love for reading, character development and create a writers nook so that hour kids can create their own stories. Get this book- read it to as many children as you can- encourage them to talk about the books they like, love and even hate. Start this wonderful discussions and begin by buying this book!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    I NEVER add picture books to my read list because I don't want to inflate my numbers, but I have to mark this book. The artwork alone is EVERYTHING. The story is EVERYTHING. The use of Spanish words that aren't English cognates is EVERYTHING. In the spirit of Pura Belpré, go read this book at your local library. Read her story to your children. Read it to someone else's children. Readit to yourself, just go check this book out.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Linda Quinn

    This beautiful picture book tells the story of Pura Belpre, the first Puerto Rican librarian at the New York Public Library. She started working there as a bilingual assistant but soon began story-times that shared the stories of her homeland. When she realized there were no books of these folk tales for children to take and share she started writing them, planting seeds of her homeland that spread through generations.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    Loved the warm, detailed illustrations and learning about the life of the legendary librarian Pura Belpre. The same flowers that we see when she first encounters the library in illustrations appear when she shares the stories that she brings to life. I also liked that the Spanish words in the book were truly interwoven into the story - not written in italics, but flowed from English to Spanish as a person would really speak: "...who wish to remember la lengua y los colores of home."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Frederic

    The story is well told, and the art is good, and suitable, but somehow it doesn't quite seem to me to fully convey the spirit of Pura Belpré -- maybe because that spirit was itself so powerful, and I've heard so many stories and seen photos and so forth; my expectations may have been too high. Still a good addition to the library of children's books dealing with Puerto Rico-related topics, though.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This book is gorgeous and amazing. I loved everything about it. The detail in the illustrations is wonderful, right down to the titles of the books in the story and the inside cover. It's such an important story of a pioneer in librarianship. A must read for librarians and library enthusiasts especially.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Garland

    Pura Belpre was a champion for the under-represented in the NY Public Library. She saw needs and met them with her stories. Reading this book made me proud to be a librarian. The illustrations take me to the time period and make me want to sit at Pura's feet and soak in her passion for her homeland and her profession.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Joan Marie

    The vibrant illustrations compliment the text that is peppered with Spanish. Back matter includes the author's note and materials for further reading. Kudos for this colorful biography about Pura Belpre who first shared her Latinx "story seeds" in the New York Public Library system and beyond!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tracie

    Exquisitely detailed illustrations and lyrical text that smoothly incorporates Spanish vocabulary describe the inspiring and empowering true story of how Pura Belpre transformed the library landscape after moving to New York City from Puerto Rico in 1921.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    Story of real life Pura Belpre - the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York. This is a very interesting and accessible picture book biography. I loved the illustrations and learning about this important library figure.

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