A vibrant portrayal of an important figure.

PURA'S CUENTOS

HOW PURA BELPRÉ RESHAPED LIBRARIES WITH HER STORIES

A biography of the first Puerto Rican to be hired by the New York Public Library and, possibly, the first Afro-Latinx librarian in the United States.

Belpré grew up in Puerto Rico listening to stories, mainly from her abuela. She needed stories “like a mango tree needs sunshine.” After moving to New York City, where she lived in Harlem, Belpré was hired to work at the 135th Street branch library (now the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture). There, she was put in charge of storytime, but she could tell only stories printed in books. “But Pura knows that not all the stories worth telling are in books.” Abuela’s stories, stories from Puerto Rico, were not in books, and those were the ones she wanted to tell. She soon convinced her bosses to allow her to tell those stories; eventually she went on to tell her stories—and plenty of others—in libraries and auditoriums, in English and in Spanish, always reaching out to as many children as possible. In due course, those stories did become books—“because Pura Belpré always knew that many stories worth telling aren’t in books,” and she could change that. The accompanying illustrations are vibrant, with rich, saturated colors. Dynamic double-page illustrations often consist of vignettes that blend into one another, adding depth to the narration. Belpré is depicted with brown skin and dark hair. The children, though mostly having similar faces, represent a range of skin tones. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A vibrant portrayal of an important figure. (author's note, source notes, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4941-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more