From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Hildamar and her cousin, Santiago, want to go to the library in Manhattan's El Barrio, but Titi Maria explains, We don't speak English, and the people there don't speak Spanish. They are new Latino immigrants and times are hard in 1929, especially in winter, when sunny Puerto Rico seems very far away. But then librarian Pura Belpré comes to Hildamar's class. She invites everyone to the library, where they find Spanish stories, and the community comes together to celebrate Three Kings Day: The reading room had become an island in the Caribbean. In this large-size, attractive bilingual picture book, Delacre's glowing oil-and-collage artwork depicts early scenes in sepia tones and later ones in lively color, expressing how strangers find a welcome that blends the two cultures in a way that enriches both. This is a warm, winning introduction to the work of the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York, whose name was given to the American Library Association's annual award that honors Latino authors and illustrators.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2008 Booklist
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Introducing Pura Belpre, the first Puerto Rican librarian hired by the New York Public Library system, this warmhearted Spanish/English bilingual story adopts the perspectives of two children who are inspired by Belpre to enter a library for the very first time. During a cold, Depression-era winter, Belpre organizes the community to hold a Three Kings' Day festival at the library. In telling the story, Gonzalez livens the English text with a sprinkling of Spanish words, and chooses facts of interest to children, but streamlines biographical details so that she can focus on the characters. Delacre's inviting oil and collage illustrations cleverly incorporate sepia-toned clippings from a January 6, 1930, New York Times, turning them into architectural elements, books, furniture, etc. With this simple and affectionate story, Gonzalez and Delacre (both winners of the ALA's Pura Belpre Honor Medal) broadcast Belpre's welcome message to new generations of immigrants--"Remember, the library belongs to you all," Belpre says. "We'll blow out the storyteller's candle, and your wish will come true." Ages 4-8. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal
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Gr 1-4-Two Pura Belpre Honor Award winners have created a moving portrait of New York City's first Puerto Rican librarian, a woman whose work has inspired generations of young people in the communities she served. It's 1929, and Hildamar, who arrived in northern Manhattan only a few months before, misses the warmth and holiday celebrations of Puerto Rico. At school, she meets Pura Belpre, who tells her class stories in Spanish and English, explains that the library belongs to everyone, and invites them to visit during winter vacation. Hildamar comes to hear Ms. Belpre's tales, see her puppets, and make wishes as she blows out the storyteller's candle. When she announces plans for a Three Kings' Day fiesta, the members of northern Manhattan's El Barrio help prepare for the event and discover at the library the comfort of their own language and memories of Puerto Rico. On January 6, 1930, the holiday is observed with sweets, music, and a play about a Spanish cockroach named Martina. The well-written text is presented in both Spanish and English. The illustrations were created with layers of oil washes and collage. Tantalizing bits of the New York Times from that date are embedded in the artwork, giving hints of the larger world-steamship arrivals, theater reviews, and even an account of Three Kings' Day in San Juan. Sepia tones evoke the time period and the setting. A lovely offering about the role of librarians in the lives of children.-Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.