Lucia Gonzalez, illustrated by Lulu Delacre,
The Storyteller's Candle
Children’s Book Press, 2008.
Hildamar and her cousin, Santiago, pass the public library on their way to school and it always looks so inviting. But Titi Maria explains, “We don’t speak English and the people in there don’t speak Spanish.” And so they never go inside. It’s one more thing that makes New York City in winter so unlike the warm and welcoming island of Puerto Rico that was until recently their home. When the new librarian, Pura Belpré, visits their classroom to tell stories, she assures the children that “la biblioteca es para todos” - the library is for everyone. Hildamar and Santiago still need to convince their hesitant parents and other grown-ups that everyone in El Barrio is welcome in the library, but all doubts are eased on their first visit, when Pura Belpré involves adults and children alike in preparations for a community celebration. A fictional story set during the Depression is based on the essential and lasting impact of real-life storyteller and librarian Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian employed in New York City. Ms Belpré understood the importance of reaching out and of welcoming all members of the community into the library, and the powerful impact of her philosophy is emphasized in a bilingual (English/Spanish) story about the joy it brings to two children and the larger immigrant community of which they are a part.