Kids Review: Pura’s Cuentos: How Pura Belpré Reshaped Libraries with Her Stories (Annette Bay Pimentel)

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About This Book:

A lyrical, vibrant tribute to the amazing life and legacy of Pura Belpré, a lauded storyteller, librarian, and pioneer of bilingual storytimes

Pura’s abuela always has a cuento to share. She crows ¡Qui-qui-ri-quí! for Señor Gallo, booms Borom, Borom for Señor Zapo, and tells of a beautiful cockroach who loves a mouse. Pura clings to these stories like coquíes cling to green leaves.

When Pura grows up and moves from Puerto Rico to Harlem, she gets a job at the library, where she is surrounded by stories—but they’re only in English. Where is Señor Gallo? Where is Pérez the mouse? Where is Puerto Rico on these shelves? She decides to tell children the tales of her homeland in English and in Spanish.

Lyrically written, with lively illustrations, Pura’s Cuentos captures the exuberant spirit and passion of Pura Belpré: celebrated storyteller, author, folklorist, and the first Latina librarian in New York City. A pioneer of bilingual storytimes, she welcomed countless new families to the library, formed cultural bridges in her community, and broke the rules by telling stories that weren’t printed in books—at least, not yet.

 

 

*Review Contributed by Beth Rodgers, Staff Reviewer*

Engaging with Books and Libraries
 
 
‘Pura’s Cuentos: How Pura Belpre Reshaped Libraries with Her Stories’ by Annette Bay Pimentel, illustrated by Magaly Morales, tells Pura’s story, and it is a beautiful one. After she moves to Harlem from Puerto Rico, she gets a job at the library, and she loves cuentos, or books, very much. She begins to be a storyteller for the children who visit the library, but she wonders why the stories she grew up hearing from her grandmother don’t populate the shelves along with the stories she so frequently shares with her patrons. She soon gets up the nerve to tell her own stories, and the people who run the library give her the go-ahead to continue doing so, telling her that she must let those who attend storytime know that someday the stories she tells may be made into a book. As she spreads the word to bring in more people of her own culture and of other cultures to hear the stories she tells, she instills a love of cuentos (books), of writing, and of the power of sharing one’s truth so others might hear it.

With an author’s note, bibliography, engaging illustrations, and a powerful telling of Pura’s story, Annette Bay Pimentel has crafted a thoroughly interesting story that stresses the importance of books, libraries, and engaging with what is moving and inspirational.

 
 

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