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Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built

By: Angela Burke Kunkel

Illustrator: Paola Escobar

In the city of Bogata, in the barrio of La Nueva Gloria, there live two Joses. One is a boy who dreams of Saturdays—that’s the day he gets to visit Paradise, the library. The second Jose is a garbage collector. From dusk until dawn, he scans the sidewalks as he drives, squinting in the dim light, searching household trash for hidden treasure…books! Some are stacked in neat piles, as if waiting for José´. Others take a bit more digging. Ever since he found his first book, Anna Karenina, years earlier, he’s been collecting books—thick ones and thin ones, worn ones and almost new ones—to add to the collection in his home. And on Saturdays, kids like little Jose run to the steps of Paradise to discover a world filled with books and wonder.

With an evocative text by a debut author, and rich, stunning illustrations from an up-and-coming Colombian illustrator, here is a celebration of perseverance, community, and the power of books.

uthor’s note, with further information about José Alberto Gutiérrez and photographs. Featured books. Selected online resources. Full-color digital illustrations.

ISBN: 9781984892645

JLG Release: Nov 2020


Sensitive Areas: None
Topics: José Alberto Gutiérrez , Libraries , Books and reading , Bogotá, Colombia , Garbage collectors , Librarians , Communities

$17.55  Member Price

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Multicultural Elementary

Grades 2-6

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Horn Book

Kunkel and Escobar (illustrator of Planting Stories, rev. 1/19) present the lives of “two Josés.” One is a child, known as Little José, living in La Nueva Gloria barrio in Colombia; the other is his neighbor, Señor José, the real-life José Alberto Gutiérrez, whose love of literacy inspired him to construct a community library at the turn Kunkel and Escobar (illustrator of Planting Stories, rev. 1/19) present the lives of “two Josés.” One is a child, known as Little José, living in La Nueva Gloria barrio in Colombia; the other is his neighbor, Señor José, the real-life José Alberto Gutiérrez, whose love of literacy inspired him to construct a community library at the turn of the twenty-first century. While Bogotá City sleeps, Señor José, a trash collector, uses his route to look for “hidden treasure…books!” Kunkel’s implied metaphor—one person’s trash is another’s treasure—neatly structures this picture-book biography. Señor José rescues discarded books, and Little José can’t wait to read them on Saturdays when the doors to “Paradise” (i.e., Gutiérrez’s community library) open wide. Escobar’s spacious digital illustrations alternate single pages (including characters’ side-by-side perspectives), spot images, and double-page spreads, whose muted cool blue tones and predominant vertical lines offer sweeping panoramic scapes of Bogotá’s streets and silhouetted mountains. Some of the images reflect readers’ imaginary worlds (references to One Hundred Years of Solitude, Anna Karenina, and The Little Prince), capturing the unique experience that literature offers the mind. An author’s note, “Featured Books,” and websites are appended. LETTYCIA TERRONES

Book Details

ISBN

9781984892645

First Release

November 2020

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

11" x 9"

Page Count

40

Accelerated Reader

N/A

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

N/A

Format

Print Book

Edition

Library edition

Publisher

Schwartz & Wade

Potentially Sensitive Areas

None

Topics

José Alberto Gutiérrez, Libraries, Books and reading, Bogotá, Colombia, Garbage collectors, Librarians, Communities,

Standard MARC Record

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Cover Art

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Book Genres

Picture Book

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