Los cuentos de Pura Belpré

Vintage Español. Feb. 2024. 40p. tr. from English by Eva Ibarzábal . Tr $18.95. ISBN 9798890980366. SP.
Gr 1-4–As a child, Pura Belpré heard many entertaining songs and stories from her family about funny characters in comic situations in her native Puerto Rico. When she moved to New York in 1920 and started working at the library as the first Puerto Rican librarian, she never forgot these stories. During her story times, the families would laugh, and sing and cry, even though these were not stories found in any books there. While telling the stories, Belpré realized that none of the listeners looked like her, so she went and found them; she did outreach and brought in Spanish-speaking readers and others from different countries to the library. Belpré even wrote down these tales herself and published them. The Pura Belpré Award, given to the best books that celebrate Latinx and the Spanish-speaking people, was named after her. Pimentel’s text is reverential and imbues her subject’s biography with warmth. The narrative is engaging and will draw in readers and researchers. Morales’s stylized illustrations portray not only scenes from Belpré’s life but also fanciful additions based on the librarian’s stories, including images from her most well-known retelling, Martina and the Cockroach. The art features a palette of purples, pinks, and teals, reminiscent of the subject’s tropical origins. Back matter includes an author’s note with Belpré’s longer biography, a selected bibliography of her published works, source notes, and bibliography.
VERDICT A biographical text that teaches the importance of inclusion, heritage, and seeing yourself in the stories you read. A must for biography shelves.

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