Looking for your next read? Check out The Storyteller’s Candle or La velita de los cuentos by Lucía González, reviewed by Fulco Library staff, Leticia S.
The Storyteller’s Candle or La velita de los cuentos by Lucia Gonzalez is the true story of Pura Belpre, the first Latina librarian in the New York Public Library system. She became a librarian during a difficult time in history- The Great Depression. The story begins as two cousins Hildamar and Santiago are walking home from school. One day when the children and their Titi Maria are walking to school they pass a tall inviting building. This building seemed different from apartment buildings. They asked her what was in the building and could they go inside. Their Aunt Maria said it was a library and she said we don’t speak English and they don’t speak Spanish. So she said that’s why they never went inside.
One day this all changed when a special guest came to the cousins classroom. The special guest was Pura Belpre. She said she worked at the public library and she brought puppets and stories to share with them. Ms. Belpre told stories in Spanish and English. The children enjoyed the stories and puppets. She told them to visit the library during winter break. Hildamar couldn’t wait to share with her family and neighborhood that Ms. Belpre said the library was for everyone! Pretty soon the whole community is helping with the Three Kings’ Day play that the library is hosting. The play helped bring people to the library where they discovered books and magazines in Spanish.
This is a wonderful book that shows how one person can affect a community. Once the neighborhood discovered what the library offered and they were included, everyone was excited to visit the library. Eventually Ms. Belpre became an author and wrote Puerto Rican folktales. The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.
The author, Lucia Gonzalez, wrote the book in English and Spanish and there is a glossary in the back that provides pronunciation and definitions of the Spanish words. For example, Titi is an affectionate term for aunt. The illustrator Lulu Delacre has created pictures in a sepia tone and added hidden newspaper clippings from the January 6th, 1930 edition of the New York Times that contains information that pertains to the story.
I recommend this book for teaching children the importance of libraries in a community. This picture book can found on library shelves.
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This post is for educational purposes and the contents are not endorsed by the Fulton County Library System or Fulton County Government.