The Storyteller's Candle

The Storyteller's Candle

by Lucia Gonzalez, Lulu Delacre
     
 

It is the winter of 1929, and cousins Hildamar and Santiago have just moved to enormous, chilly New York from their native Puerto Rico. As Three Kings' Day approaches, Hildamar and Santiago mourn the loss of their sunny home and wonder about their future in their adopted city. But when a storyteller and librarian named Pura Belpré arrives in their classroom,

Overview

It is the winter of 1929, and cousins Hildamar and Santiago have just moved to enormous, chilly New York from their native Puerto Rico. As Three Kings' Day approaches, Hildamar and Santiago mourn the loss of their sunny home and wonder about their future in their adopted city. But when a storyteller and librarian named Pura Belpré arrives in their classroom, the children begin to understand just what a library can mean to a community. In this fitting tribute to a remarkable woman, Lucía González and Lulu Delacre have captured the truly astounding effect that Belpré had on the city of New York.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Introducing Pura Belpré, 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 Belpré to enter a library for the very first time. During a cold, Depression-era winter, Belpré organizes the community to hold a Three Kings' Day festival at the library. In telling the story, González 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, González and Delacre (both winners of the ALA's Pura Belpré Honor Medal) broadcast Belpré's welcome message to new generations of immigrants-"Remember, the library belongs to you all," Belpré says. "We'll blow out the storyteller's candle, and your wish will come true." Ages 4-8. (Apr.)

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Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The story of Hildamar and her cousin Santiago, immigrants from Puerto Rico awaiting their first Christmas in 1929 in icy New York, introduces Pura Belpre, the librarian for whom the award for Latino writers and illustrators is named. Belpre, New York City's first Latina librarian, made Spanish-speaking children feel welcome in the public library. She lights the storyteller's candle then tells the children a story in Spanish. They plan a fiesta for the traditional Three Kings' Day there with the help of friends and neighbors. Delacre's oil wash scenes spill over the gutters to incorporate the English and Spanish texts. There is an honest, almost folk-like quality to the detailed scenes, projecting images of the time. She also incorporates bits of newspaper clippings of the period, using them to simulate books, benches, office buildings, even the edges of sidewalks. There is relevant information, like the shipping news, as the story describes the children's voyage from Puerto Rico. Also included are introductory notes, additional information about Belpre, a glossary, and notes about the artwork. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

Gr 1-4- Two Pura Belpré 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 Belpré, 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. Belpré'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

Kirkus Reviews
The first Puerto Rican librarian hired by the New York Public Library was Pura Belpre, still renowned for her storytelling and her books of folktales. Set in 1929, this bilingual story follows two Puerto Rican children who live in Manhattan's El Barrio and discover their local branch library. Their immigrant parents can't believe that the library cares about its Spanish-speaking community, but Hildamar and her cousin Santiago lead the way after an outreach visit to their school by the Puerto Rican-born librarian. They join in happily as Belpre organizes a special Three Kings' Day event, complete with a play based on her famous story Perez and Martina (published in book form in 1932). The evening ends with the blowing out of "the storyteller's candle," a New York Public Library tradition. Gonzalez is a librarian, a bilingual storyteller and author, and the English and Spanish texts both read smoothly. The collage illustrations incorporate a sepia-toned oil-wash technique to give the pictures an older look. (author's notes, glossary) (Picture book. 6-9)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780892392223
Publisher:
Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Publication date:
03/28/2008
Edition description:
Bilingual
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.90(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

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