Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré


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*Indie Next List Pick*

*Junior Library Guild Selection*

“An appealing tribute and successful remedy to the lack of titles about the groundbreaking librarian…a must-have for all libraries.” School Library Journal (starred review)

An inspiring picture book biography of storyteller, puppeteer, and New York City’s first Puerto Rican librarian, who championed bilingual literature.

When she came to America in 1921, Pura Belpré carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular retellings into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and storytellers continue to share her tales and celebrate Pura’s legacy.

Brought to colorful life by Paola Escobar’s elegant and exuberant illustrations and Anika Aldamuy Denise’s lyrical text, this gorgeous book is perfect for the pioneers in your life.

Informative backmatter and suggested further reading included.

A Spanish-language edition, Sembrando historias: Pura Belpré: bibliotecaria y narradora de cuentos, is also available.

“Anika Aldamuy Denise’s intimate telling captures the magical, folk-tale feeling of Belpré’s own stories. Her lyrical text, sprinkled like fairy dust with Spanish words, begs to be read aloud, while Paola Escobar’s stylishly detailed and warmly expressive illustrations capture the joy of sharing stories.” –New York Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062748683
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/15/2019
Pages: 40
Sales rank: 455
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile: 860L (what's this?)
Age Range: 4 - 8 Years

About the Author

Anika Aldamuy Denise, is the celebrated author of many picture books, including Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré; Starring Carmen!; Lights, Camera, Carmen!; and Monster Trucks. A tradition she began with her oldest daughter—of leaving short poems and love notes for each other to find—inspired her book The Love Letter. She lives in Rhode Island with her husband, three children, and a very lovey kitty named Charlie. Visit Anika online at

Paola Escobar, the illustrator of Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré, grew up traveling from town to town in Colombia. From a very young age she liked to draw the stories her grandmother Clara told about her ancestors, the countryside, and animals. Today, Paola is an illustrator who is passionate about telling stories of her own, having published with SM Spain, Planeta, Norma, and more. She lives very happily in Bogotá, Colombia, with her husband and their dog, Flora.

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Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Stacy_Renee 18 days ago
When Pura Teresa Belpre leaves San Juan for New York, she brings the stories her grandmother taught her in Puerto Rico with her. Being trilingual, she found a job at the library, and after finding that there are no stories in Spanish and no stories from her homeland, she decides to write them herself. As a lifetime patron of local libraries and a lover of books in general, I checked this out from my own library entirely based on the title and cover alone. I was happy to find that it is a biography about a woman that brought her languages and stories from Puerto Rico to Manhattan and published them as well as translated English stories into Spanish, giving a voice to Latinx authors and opening a world of reading to children. Diversity in children's books is so important, as we all need both mirrors and windows to see and understand ourselves as well as others. Likewise, languages are a beautiful thing and I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book is bilingual, with Spanish words and phrases mixed in. We've been learning a bit of Spanish for the past couple of years so I only had to look up a couple of words but overall the context and imagery made it easy to understand even though I think those with no knowledge of Spanish might be turned off from this book since there are no accompanying translations. The illustrations are fantastic. They're quite realistic while still having a beautiful cartoon quality to them with bright colors and patterns and lovely flowers throughout. Plus, the bookshelves are so lovely to look at!
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
After reading this children’s story and the author’s note on the back two pages, I got chills. This story is fantastic and I am so glad that I picked it up. It tells the true story of a woman who shared stories from her childhood which changed the lives of many. As I read this story, I thought of how she stepped forward and went about making a difference. This woman was not a loud, strong woman. This woman saw a void and wanted to fill it. The year is 1921 and Pura Teresa leaves San Juan to visit her sister in the U.S. Seeing what the U.S. had to offer, Pura finds a job and begins to settle in. When the library posts a job for a bilingual assistant, Pura knows that she is the perfect individual for the job. Realizing there are no Puerto Rico folktales on the library shelves, Puro recalls the stories that she heard growing up. As the children gather around her during story hour, Puro doesn’t need any book to read from. Puro’s words are enough that the children are soon whisked away into Puro’s world and imagination. It isn’t long before Puro begins to create puppets to add to her stories and then, the word gets out about Puro and her stories and there is no stopping what happens to these wonderful tales. This children’s book put a smile on my face and it warmed my heart as I read about her journey through life, sharing her stories. I hoped her journey would never end as she was such a positive individual. This book gives the full account of her life and it truly is a wonderful story. Make sure you read the author’s note which is located in the back of the book. Located also in the back of the book are a few pages on additional resources you could use for more information on topics contained in the story.
Jenna Grodzicki More than 1 year ago
As a children's author and librarian, I've long been fascinated by the life of Pura Belpré. Her contributions to the world of children's literature and the lives of so many children who had never before seen themselves in stories are quite remarkable. Anika Denise brings Pura's story to life with her beautiful prose, and Paola Escobar's gorgeous illustrations complement the text perfectly. This is a book that all children will enjoy. It is a must have for classrooms and libraries everywhere.