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The Storyteller's Candle/La velita de los cuentos
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The Storyteller's Candle/La velita de los cuentos

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  414 ratings  ·  115 reviews
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 b ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 28th 2008 by Children's Book Press
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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May 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing

I loved "Storyteller's Candle"--just as Pura Belpré brought the warmth of Puerto Rico to a chilly New York City winter through her stories, this book brings a glowing love of storytelling, libraries and Puerto Rican culture. It was so sad to imagine the children walking past the library being told that there were no Spanish books or Spanish-speaking librarians so there was no point for them to go inside!!! Then, so marvelous to feel their delight when they learned that Ms. Belpré had ar
Lisa Vegan
This is a bilingual book, and a fun way for me to brush up on my Spanish. It’s an inspiring historical fiction picture book for children about Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian to be hired by the New York Public Library, and this story takes place during the Great Depression.

The story is told in English and Spanish, each portion either on the same page one paragraph after the other or on facing pages. I thought it was a nice touch that in the English language sections there’s a littl
Mar 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
We children’s librarians are used to picture books pandering to us. It’s common knowledge. If an author wants some easy library lovin’ they just whip up some kind of tale involving a heroic librarian in the hopes of instantaneous shelf space. The most blatant of these ( The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians I am SO looking at you!) leave horrible tastes in our mouths. Yet not every librarian-based picture book is a shameless sauntering hussy. Sometimes, and this is rare, but sometimes you get a b ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Imagine not going in to the library because no one speaks your language! I enjoyed this story about Pura Belpre, the first Puerto Rican librarian to be hired by the New York Public Library, and the impact she had on the Hispanic people, young and old, in the area. Not only did she provide books in Spanish, but she encouraged the revival of Hispanic community traditions that they had left behind in their native countries. I would like to read more about her life. What an inspiration!
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Pura Belpré / Readers Looking for Stories Featuring Latino Children
With the exception of Firefly Summer , her novel for younger readers, I've read and enjoyed pretty much everything published by Pura Belpré - the Puerto Rican children's author and librarian for whom the The Pura Belpré Award, set up to honor Latina/o children's authors and illustrators, was named. So when I discovered that there was a picture-book about Belpré herself, and her role in making The New York Public Library accessible to the Latina/o community, I was quite excited to read it. I'm ...more
What librarian doesn't love stories about the power of libraries and inspirational librarians?! This bilingual picture book highlights the work of Pura Belpre, the first Puerto Rican librarian in the New York Public Library System. Shown through the eyes of a fictional family, it describes how Belpre welcomed the Spanish-speaking community into the library through stories and activities that acknowledged their cultural heritage. The illustrator incorporated pieces of a 1930 newspaper into her pa ...more
Caroline Pilman-DeKruif
Readers familiar with or who have heard of the Pura Belpré Award will appreciate learning about the woman whom the award is named after in this (seemingly very fitting) Pura Belpré Author and Illustrator Honor and Jane Addams Honor book. The story takes place in cold, wintry New York City during the beginning of the Great Depression, where Hildamar and Santiago, cousins, are adjusting to life away from their home in Puerto Rico. The cousins ask a family member about a "tall building with windows ...more
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rll-539
The Storyteller’s Candle written by Lucia Gonzalez and illustrated by Lulu Delacre is a beautiful picture book that reflects happy times during such a dark era. The Great Depression especially hit Puerto Rican families hard. They moved from their little island of Puerto Rico to live in El Barrios or neighborhoods of New York City. El Barrios were not taken care of and the Puerto Rican people lived rough winters because of the poor conditions. There was so much darkness, but Lucia Gonzalez descri ...more
Andrew Jongeneel
The Storyteller’s Candle, written by Lucia Gonzalez, with a genre in realistic fiction, illustrated by Lulu Delacre, is about a girl name Hildamar who, one day, walks past a library and wants to go inside, but her aunt tells her that because they dont speak English and the people in the library dont speak Spanish, they cant go in. At school, Hildamar gets a visit from a Hispanic librarian; she learns that the library if full of Spanish books and there is someone who speaks Spanish to help her. T ...more
Apr 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a wonderful story about the first Puerto Rican librarian in the New York Public Library system. The story describes how she went into the schools to reach out to all children, but especially the Spanish-speaking children who had come to New York with their families. She planned programs that reminded those from Puerto Rico of their life there and helped them to find Spanish language resources.

This book has a simple narrative that is printed on each page in both English and Spanish and i
Jaclyn Giordano
Jan 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
The Storyteller’s Candle by Lucia Gonzalez was the 2009 Pura Belpré Honor Book for Narratives. I gave this book five stars. This picture book is intended for readers from preschool to grade 3. This is the story of the public library in El Barrio in Manhattan and the way Pura Belpré opened up, brought to life, and welcomed many Puerto Rican immigrants into the wonderful world of books. The Puerto Rican culture, language, and spirit is captured as Pura Belpré lights her storyteller’s candle, blow ...more
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
"The Storyteller's Candle/La velita de los cuentos" is a heart-warming story about the Puerto Rican children of New York City and their discovery of real-life Puerto Rican librarian Pura Belpre in the winter of 1929. Pura Belpre was New York City's very first Latina librarian. Using her love of stories, children, and her native culture, Belpre made a new home for Puerto Rican children-a place where they could speak their own language, hear their native stories, and feel welcomed and appreciated. ...more
L11_Nick Mamula
Feb 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture_books
A story that grips the imagination of a child and allows them to dream. Lucia Gonzalez does an excellent job of prompting the reader to imagine different wishes. In addition, the story is based around the theme that anything is possible. Gonzalez provides an excellent translation for both English and Spanish speakers, along with a glossary of terms and comprehension questions at the end of the story. It is clear that Gonzalez kept the intended audience in mind, and made sure to apply to their re ...more
This is a lovely book based around Pura Belpre's life...but a fictional account. Hildamar and Santiago are cousins who have just moved to NYC from Puerto Rico. They admire the beautiful library but their family says they can't go inside because no one there speaks Spanish. But then Pura Belpre visits their school and tells stories in English and Spanish and invites all the children to visit the library. The illustrations in this book are remarkable, including collage elements from the New York T ...more
Q_Jill Burke
This is a story about Pura Belpre, who was the first Puerto Rican librarian hired at the New York Public Library. She was a great storyteller and helped children find their culture in a world so different than what they were accustomed. Many Puerto Ricans came to New York to find work and new opportunities. Most moved to an area called El Barrio north of Manhattan. They were not use to the cold weather and missed their island. They were surprised when Pura Belpre came to their school and told st ...more
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have to admit that I was very unfamiliar with the story of Pura Belpre - I'd heard of the book award, but was totally unfamiliar with the tale of the first Puerto Rican librarian hired by NYPL. I love the way the author weaves her into a telling of Three Kings Day. The illustration technique of collaging in snippets of old NY newspapers into the images (discussed at the end of the book) is wonderful. Once I realized they were picked to complement each scene based on the print topic I had to go ...more
Oct 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
This non-fiction picture book tells the story of Pura Belpre, author and the first Puerto Rican librarian in the New York Public Library system. Through her story telling and gentle warmth this amazing woman welcomed Latinos into the New York City libraries and celebrated Latino writers. I found this book very interesting and informative -- especially since I have been reading a number of Pura Belpre Honor Award books and had no idea who Pura Belpre was!

Historical; 2008; Pura Belpre Honor Award
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book was informative and very interesting. It tells the story of Bulpre and how she invited children and spanish speakers into the library. You can feel how powerful this invitation was for the children and the community. The story feels more like a story than a biography or informational book, which will helps pull you through the book.

I loved the illustrations because they we incredibly detailed, but stayed in the background subtly.
Ben Truong
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Storyteller's Candle: La Velita de Los Cuentos is a children's picture book written by Lucia M. González and illustrated by Lulu Delacre. It is a biographical picture book of Pura Belpré – the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City.

Mid-September to Mid-October, at least in my part of the world is Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month, which I plan to read one children's book, particularly a biography, which pertains to the subject everyday this month. Therefore, I thought that this book woul
Vamos a Leer
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The book starts with an introduction that gives readers some of the historical and biographical context of the work, describing the influx of Puerto Rican immigrants to New York City during the years of the Great Depression (1929-1935). Many Puerto Ricans lived in a neighborhood of Manhattan known as El Barrio:

Winter was harsh for the people of El Barrio. This was when they most missed their island’s tropical warmth. But during this time something wonderful happened. A talented storyteller named
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Storyteller’s Candle by Lucia Gonzalez and illustrated by Lulu Delacre was published by Children’s Book Press in 2008. This bilingual text details the influence of Pura Belpre on the Puerto Rican community in Manhattan during the Great Depression. As the families try to cope with the winter weather in El Barrio, they long for the warm climate and warm community they remember from home. Pura Belpre serves as an ambassador for the library, showing the children during school presentations that ...more
Jayme Prisbell-Hultman
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
The 2009 Pura Belpré Honor Book for Narrative Award, The Storyteller’s Candle, written by Lucia González, is an ode to the wonders of reading and the importance of community leadership. This bilingual picture book highlights the work of Pura Belpre, the first Puerto Rican librarian in the New York Public Library System. Set during the Great Depression, Hildamar and Santiago are two young kids trying to adjust to the cold New York weather. Enjoying memories of their hometown in Puerto Rico, the c ...more
Aide Acuna
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Main Characters: Pura Belpre , Hildamar and her cousin Santiago
Point of View: Narrator
Setting: Puerto Rican young kids then travel to New York
Plot: Young Puerto Rican immigrants traveled from Puerto Rico to New York. These students walk by the library everyday but are not able to go in because their families believe they won't learn anything since they only know how to speak Spanish and no English. One day a librarian comes to their school and tells the children to come to the library and there
NS-Christine Johnson
Oct 07, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This is the story of Pura Belpre, the first Puerto Rican librarian in the New York Public Library system. Hildamar and her brother Santiago are spending their first winter in EL Barrio. As they pass by the beautiful library building, they ask their Titi Maria if they can go inside. She tells them that the people inside don't speak Spanish, and they can't speak English, so the three keep walking.

But that afternoon at school, the children were surprised to meet a librarian named Pura Belpre. She
Loren Max
Oct 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: latino-group-3
The Storyteller’s Candle
By Lucia Gonzalez
Illustrations by Lulu Delacre
(Group 3 Latino)
I was not very impressed with the book when I read it. However, I was noticing that throughout the book in the illustrations it looked like there were newspaper clippings in the background. At first I thought the illustrator was using this to reinforce the concept of the book to encourage reading in children. However, at the end of the book it is explained that the artist used newspaper clippings in the illus
This book tells the story of two young children, Hildamar and Santiago, which have moved to New York City from the island of Puerto Rico in the 1930’s. The kids want to go to the library, but are told by an aunt that the library is not for them, because they don’t speak English. One day a woman comes to their school and invites them to the library, and she speaks Spanish. She invites the kids and the people of the community to celebrate Three Kings Day at the library. This book honors the legacy ...more
Jessica Harden
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
A tribute to Pura Belpré, this story is set in the Great Depression era when Puerto Ricans were coming to New York for a better life. In the story, Hildamar & Santiago meet Belpré when she comes to their school and their small community of Puerto Ricans change for the better. She captivates Hildamar, Santiago, their classmates, and their families with her storytelling skills and blows out her Storyteller Candle after each story. She involves the community in a celebration of El Dia de los Reyes, ...more
Christine Turner
Oct 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Pura Belpré honor book.

This is a picture book for older children. It is too long for our storytime programs.

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.


Belpré, Pura -- Juvenile fiction.

Librarians -- Juvenile fiction.

Libraries -- Juvenile fiction

Libraries and immigrants -- Juvenile fic
Q_michelene Haggard
The Storyteller's Candle/La Velita de los Cuentos is a biography written in English and Spanish of the life of Pura Belpre, after who the award is named. During the Depression, she was the first Puerto Rican hired by the NY public library system. Told third person from two young Puertican boy cousins. She went to their class and told stories in English and Spanish, and let them know that the library was for everyone. She hosted a Three King's Day fiesta at the library. This book reminds us that ...more
The Storyteller's Candle is such a beautiful book about the power of the imagination. Pura Belpre was born sometime between 1899-1903, she used the stories from her grandmother to sort of plant the seeds for wonderful stories. The main characters in this story Hildamar and Santiago come from Puerto Rico to New York this is hard adjusting to any such new settings. They experience their first Christmas etc. The most important part of this story is when they meet Pura Belpre who worked at the libra ...more
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Has fond memories of listening to storytellers while growing up in Cuba. Was previously a translator and is now a children's librarian, a storyteller, and a puppeteer. Lives in Miami Florida with her Venezuelan husband and their bilingual daughter, Anna.

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