Published by Harry N. Abrams
Summary: Pura Belpré grew up in Puerto Rico, surrounded by a family of storytellers. When she moved to New York City, she missed those cuentos and visited her branch of the New York Public Library to discover the stories there. The librarian noticed her interacting with others in both Spanish and English and offered her a job. Pura loved reading to kids but couldn’t find any books with the Puerto Rican folktales she grew up with. She broke with protocol by telling a story instead of reading it during an evaluation with library administrators. They were so impressed that they gave her special permission to use her storytelling skills (instead of reading a book) during library story hours. She was a pioneer of bilingual story hours, making the library more inviting to Spanish speakers. In her retirement, she worked on writing down some of the stories, making her beloved cuentos available in published books. Includes an author’s note, a list of Pura Belpré’s books, and other sources. 40 pages; grades K-3.
Pros: I almost passed by this book, thinking that everything I needed to know about Pura Belpré I learned from 2019’s Planting Stories by Anika Aldamuy Denise. I’m glad I didn’t, as I found it charming and engaging, telling the story of this fascinating woman with slightly dreamy illustrations that incorporate a lot of Spanish words. Planting Stories won a Belpré honor, and this book is worthy of one as well.
Cons: Seems like it would be in keeping with Pura’s spirit to have a Spanish version of this book, but I couldn’t find one.