Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built

Random/Schwartz & Wade. Sept. 2020. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781984892638.
PreS-Gr 2–This is a story of literacy and two Josés, both look forward to Saturday. On that day, the older José, a garbage collector who carefully gathers books that have been discarded, will open the doors to his collection and share it with the children of their barrio, including the young boy, José. The lyrical text weaves together the daily routines of both Josés, showing elements of their day in Bogotá, Colombia, and the scenes that play out in their imaginations when they discover a new world inside a book. The digitally painted illustrations capture the joy of anticipation and discovery as well as loving details of the barrio of La Nueva Gloria, where there was no library until 2000. An author’s note expands on the true story that inspired this book, as well as suggesting sources for more information about Gutiérrez. An inviting and generous story that will be a pleasure to read aloud.
VERDICT Recommended, particularly for fans of books such as Anika A. Denise’s Planting Stories, also illustrated by Escobar, and as a city-set complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro.

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