The Storyteller's Candle/La velita de los cuentos

by Lucia Gonzalez

Hardcover, 2008



Local notes

E Gon


Lee & Low Books Inc (2008), Edition: Bilingual, 32 pages


During the early days of the Great Depression, New York City's first Puerto Rican librarian, Pura Belpré, introduces the public library to immigrants living in El Barrio and hosts the neighborhood's first Three Kings' Day fiesta.


Original language


Physical description

32 p.; 11 inches


0892392223 / 9780892392223



User reviews

LibraryThing member shawse
I picked this book up from the library's "new book" shelf in the children's section because of the interesting title. It is about a Puerto Rican librarian in New York who reaches out to the local Spanish community encouraging them to come to the library and organizes a celebration around "Three Kings Day." The book is bilingual (English & Spanish). Being a librarian I was pleasantly surprised by the subject matter and think it places the librarian in a very positive and pleasant light… (more)
LibraryThing member roethkegrrl
González and Delacre’s The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos accomplishes a great deal in a relatively slim (32 pages) children’s volume. The story of cousins Hildamar and Santiago illustrates the emotional and cultural challenges faced by Puerto Rican immigrant children, while the setting of the Depression-era Manhattan neighborhood known as El Barrio provides historical and social context. The bilingual text allows English-speaking readers to learn Spanish vocabulary and vice-versa. And the life and legacy of Pura Belpré, though interwoven with the fictional children’s characters, is rendered faithfully. By focusing the story’s events on Three King’s Day/El Día de los Reyes and Belpré’s holiday celebrations at the New York Public Library, González and Delacre combine cultural education with a message about the public library’s value in the community. Belpré’s belief, echoed by the authors, was that the library “belongs to everyone—whether you speak Spanish, English or both.” This message of equal access for all both solidifies Belpre’s legacy, and communicates one of the central ethical tenets of librarianship today.
A Pura Belpré Honor Award winner, this book is likely to interest librarians because it tells an important story from the history of library science in general and Latino librarianship in particular, because its message of free library access can teach readers of all ages about the mission and vision of libraries in the United States, and because the biography of Pura Belpré is an inspiring and important story that deserves attention. The text and rich illustrations are likely to engage readers of all ages and levels, and the takeaway message is timeless.
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LibraryThing member amanda_c
Illustrated with an intriguing combination of oil washes and paper collage, this picture book tells the less-than-engaging story of two fictional children in Depression-era New York who celebrate Día de los Reyes at their local library thanks to the efforts of the city’s famous first Puerto Rican librarian, Pura Belpre.

Potential Use:
With its sepia-toned illustrations, shallow characterization, and lengthy text passages, this book would probably be most useful read aloud in a classroom setting.

Child Appeal:
While a picture book telling the story of famed children’s librarian Pura Belpré seems like a blatant bid for the attention of children’s librarians, the shallow characterization and didactic narration of The Storyteller’s Candle may prove off-putting for children without the aide of an engaging read-aloud reader—perhaps an energetic children’s librarian.
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LibraryThing member tlcalderon4
This story is based on the life of Pura Belpre, who was the first Puerto Rican to be hired by the New York Public Library system. We meet two Puerto Rican children, Hildamar and Santiago, whose family have just migrated to New York City in the early days of the Great Depression, and are trying to adjust to their new life, far away from their tropical home. The entire community is overjoyed to hear that the library has a Puerto Rican librarian who has brought their Spanish speaking culture to the Barrio. They decide to have a fiesta for Three Kings Day, and everyone gets involved to make it huge success. The book celebrates the work of Pura Belpre, and teaches the importance of being involved in your community and culture.… (more)
LibraryThing member samib
This attractive picture book is the story of a Puerto Rican family who moves to New York and meets Pura Belpre, who helps the community come together through the library to put on a Dia de los Reyes celebration. The book is bilingual, and on every page the text is presented in equal size in both English and Spanish. The Puerto Rican family is shown as close, warm, and as a large family and community who feel at first like they don't belong at the library because they do not speak English. Yet the story invites them in to participate at the library and feel welcome in their new home. A nice book for Spanish speakers whose children are in elementary and middle school, which also invites the reader to find community and history at the library.

Schools can use this story for elementary or middle school children to speak about immigration, Spanish speakers in America, Puerto Rican culture, and to introduce students to the library. Libraries are likely to want to back this title due to its attention to a famous librarian, Pura Belpre, who was a pioneer in Spanish language services to children and a famous storyteller. It can be used in programming or displays related to Spanish language services, El Dia de los Reyes, and even outreach to schools.
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LibraryThing member Salsabrarian
Not only a story about New York's first Puerto Rican librarian but the savvy librarian or library advocate will not miss the message about making the library a welcoming and accessible place for everyone.
LibraryThing member Lauryn1025
Summary: The book, The Storyteller's Candle/La vela de los cuentos, is about Hildamar and Santiago, wo do not go into a library because they area afraid that it is for people who speak English only. this books takes you through learning how beneficial libraries can be. Hildamar and Santiago eventually discover that the library is welcoming to Spanish speaking people as well.

Personal Reflection: In todays society, being bilingual is extremely beneficial because more often than not, people everywhere speak Spanish. It is good to teach children to not be afraid because they may learn something new!

Classroom Extension: The classroom could have a Spanish lesson and learn some Spanish words. Also,we could read through a Spanish book and work to translate it to English.
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LibraryThing member jnicklas
This is for children so they may experience other cultures.
LibraryThing member JodiEasley
This is a historically based story that is based around the Puerto Rican migration to New York. It shows how a minority group continued to celebrate their traditions and culture despite being away from their country. I would use this story in a 3rd or 4th grade class to address role models and multiculturalism.




(28 ratings; 3.9)
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