Reading Level: Grades PreK-2; Lexile Level 860; ATOS Reading Level 4
Interest Level: The interest level for this book is appropriate with the reading level, and could even be interesting up to grade five. I enjoyed it as an adult, the story was told beautifully.
Summary: Readers will learn the impact of Pura Belpré and her stories, from how they all started to how her legacy continues to make an impact to this day.
Justification: This title is mentioned on numerous book lists, some of these mentions include Américas Award 2020 commended title from the Consortium of Latin American Studies Program (CLASP), Pura Belpré author honor in 2020, ALSC Notable Children’s Books commended title in 2020, and an NCTE Orbis Pictus Award honor book also in 2020.
To start, the illustrations in this book are beautiful! Pura Belpré is drawn in a way that she is the focus of attention anytime she appears in the book. She is not drawn largely, or oversized, compared to the background, but she still grabs the readers eyes. There is a golden hue throughout the book, even on the cover, that gives off a warm and loving feeling. I also loved the end papers on this book, they were fully decorated with illustrations of the story hour candle and two of Pura’s puppets, Martina and Pérez. Also, the illustrations are great for establishing the settings mentioned in the text.
Majority of the book is written in English, but there are a handful of Spanish words and phrases mixed in. I believe this was done to reinforce the fact that Pura Belpré told stories in many languages. It is easy to use context clues to decipher what these phrases mean, and in some instances, they are creatively repeated in English. I especially liked the fact that this was a quick biography written in verse. It flowed smoothly and read with a gentle cadence that brought Pura Belpré to life.
The end of the book includes additional books to read, archival collections, films, and background information on the selected stories mentioned (Pérez y Martina, Juan Bobo, The Tiger and the Rabbit, and The Three Magi). The closing note also explains how the American Library Association honors her by annually presenting an award bearing her name to a Latinx author and illustrator. The title was also a perfect reminder of how powerful stories can be, and how they can act as seeds that later grow into positive change.
Denise, A.A. (2019). Planting stories: The life of librarian and storyteller Pura Belpré (P. Escobar, Illus.). Harper