The Storyteller's Candle

Presented by Rachel Holthaus, EDEL 411 Section D

González, L. M., & Delacre, L. (2008). The storyteller's candle/la velita de los cuentos. San Francisco: Childrens Book Press.

About the Book

Author: Lucia Gonzalez

Illustrator: Lulu Delacre

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Theme: The library is a place for everyone - no matter where you're from.

Awards: Pura Belpre Honor Book

About the Author

Lucia Gonzalez grew up in Cuba and Miami. She is a talented author, storyteller, and librarian. Her presentations range from string stories, puppetry, audience participation, and anecdotes about moving to the United States from Cuba. She is the author of two other award winning multicultural children's books: The Bossy Gallito (Scholastic, 1994) and Senor Cat's Romance and Other Favorite Stories from Latin America (2001). She wrote this book, The Storyteller's Candle, in honor of the first Latina librarian in New York, Pure Belpre.

About the Illustrator

Lulu Delacre was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. As a child she enjoyed drawing at her grandmother's house on large white sheets of paper. When she was ten, she began taking a painting class taught by a family friend. Lulu enrolled at the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Puerto Rico and knew she wanted to pursue a career as an artist. She was accepted into the L'Ecole Superieure d'Arts Graphiques in Paris, France - where she decided she wanted to illustrate children's books. Lulu especially enjoys illustrating books that represent her own culture.

Illustration from the Book

Lulu Delacre put a lot of thought into how she chose to illustrate The Storyteller's Candle. As a starting point, she talked to the author, Lucia Gonzalez, about the information Lucia found on Pura Belpre. She did lots of research on clothes, cars, and architecture of the time period. She glued bits and pieces of the New York Times News Paper into her illustrations to also help set the time period. She did the painting in sepia, which gave the illustrations an old photo look, and then used oil washes to "make the old photos come to life."
To hear Lucia Gonzalez and Lulu Delacre talk about the making of The Storyteller's Candle and for more about the illustrations, visit the link below.

Criteria for Notable Multicultural Books

  1. Setting should be representative of and consistent with historical or contemporary time, place, or situation of a particular culture. The Storyteller's Candle takes place in New York during the early years of the Great Depression (1929-1935). The Great Depression was felt worldwide, and therefore also affected Puerto Rico. During this time, many Puerto Rican's traveled to the United States, particularly New York, in search of jobs and a better way of life.
  2. Language should reflect distinctive vocabulary, style, and patterns of speech of the cultural group. The Storyteller's Candle is written in two languages: English and Spanish. Each spread contains the passage in English and in Spanish. The English language used in the book is speckled with rich Spanish words that are pertinent to the story and the Puerto Rican culture.
  3. Illustrations should compliment and enhance the imagery of the story. The illustrations in this book are intricate and detailed. The pages contain rich scenery and characters painted with oil washes of beautiful warm tones. Each spread contains newspaper print from the New York Times of January 6, 1930 in some aspect of the illustration to help set the time period of the story.

Classroom Teaching Application

Grade Level 4

CCSS RL.4.2. Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the text.

Objective: The students will identify a theme from the The Storyteller's Candle using evidence from the text.

This book can be related to students' lives through the feelings of homesickness, visiting the library, and celebrating Christmas. The book also contains an historical reference. The story takes place during the early years of the Great Depression. This book can be used to teach students about the effects of the Great Depression and the many Puerto Ricans that traveled to the United States, particularly New York, in search of jobs.

The teacher will explain to students that the theme of a story is the main message the story is trying to convey. The teacher will use a small short story to model identifying the theme of the story. The teacher will use a think-a-loud strategy to point out evidence from the story that helps to identify the theme.

The students will practice the skill by identifying the theme in The Storyteller's Candle. They will fill out a worksheet that includes the main theme and supporting evidence (details) from the story. After the lesson, students will read a short story on their own and fill out a similar worksheet with the theme and supporting details.

Vocabulary from the Story

Nueva York: New York

El Barrio: the neighborhood

Navidad: Christmas

Bendito: word used to show sympathy, frustration, or exasperation.

Parrandas: Party

Aguinaldos: Christmas carol

El Dia de los Reyes: The Three Kings' Day

Titi: Aunt

Ninos: children

Luceros: bright star

Buenos dias: Good day

La biblioteca: the library

Espanol: Spanish

nenes: baby; small child

Viva: alive

Bodega Santurce: small store

Habichuelas: beans

cafe: coffee

Que bueno: how good; how wonderful

Bueno, ya veremos: well, we'll see

Bienvenidos: Welcome

Fiesta: party

Asalto!: Surprise!

Parranderos: celebrants

Vengo a saludar: come with greetings

Guiro: a musical instrument made out of a gourd

Cuatro: a guitar

About Pura Belpre


The Storyteller's Candle by holtrach