Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise
Illustrated by Paola Escobar
Harper Collins Publishing, 2019, 40 pages
Trigger Warnings: death
About the Author: Anika Aldamuy Denise is a children’s book author based in Rhode Island, known for her books Lights, Camera, Carmen!; Starring Carmen!; and Monster Trucks, just to name a few. Many of her stories reflect her bicultural heritage, and she strives to represent Latinx backgrounds in her writing. Anika is currently working on nonfiction picture book Rosita Rising, and Bunny in the Middle, both to be released soon. You can learn more about her at: anikadenise.com
About the Illustrator: Paola Escobar is a Colombian freelance illustrator and graphic designer. She currently lives in Bogota, Colombia and publishes her work in countries across the world, such as Planeta, Scholastic UK and SM Spain. Her work is inspired by the stories of her ancestors she grew up hearing from her grandmother.
“But where are her abuela’s stories? Not one folktale from Puerto Rico is on the shelves. How lucky for the library that Pura has story seeds ready to plant and grow.”
When Pura leaves her childhood home in Puerto Rico and journeys across the sea to New York, she carries the cuentos of her childhood, the legends of her culture. But when she begins to work at the library in her new home, she finds that the stories of her culture are absent from American shelves. Can Pura use her place as a storyteller to plant the seeds that will grow into the stories of her people?
In Planting Stories, Denise and Escobar craft an empowering, inspiring biography of Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City. Escobar provides the story with beautiful illustrations, taking the reader from the streets of New York City into the magic of Latino legends. While Denise mixes Spanish and English text to create a rhythmic, fluid story representative of both cultures.
Planting Stories is great for readers who want to learn more about the life of Pura Belpré and her impact in creating diverse literature. Her story is a reminder to us all about the power of stories: they plant the seeds that can grow into positive change.
PRR Writer, Mandy Becker
Pick up your copy today!