As a little boy, Rubén Darío loved to listen to his great uncle, a man who told tall tales in a booming, larger-than-life voice. Rubén quickly learned the magic of storytelling, and discovered the rapture and beauty of verse.
A restless and romantic soul, Rubén traveled across Central and South America seeking adventure and connection. As he discovered new places and new loves, he wrote poems to express his wild storm of feelings. But the traditional forms felt too restrictive. He began to improvise his own poetic forms so he could capture the entire world in his words. At the age of twenty-one, he published his first book Azul, which heralded a vibrant new literary movement called Modernismo that blended poetry and prose into something magical.
From acclaimed author Margarita Engle comes a gorgeous new novel in verse about Rubén Darío, the Nicaraguan poet and folk hero who initiated the literary movement of Modernismo.
DREAMS FROM MANY RIVERS A Hispanic History of the United States Told in Poems
From Juana Briones and Juan Ponce de León, to eighteenth century slaves and modern-day sixth graders, the many and varied people depicted in this moving narrative speak to the experiences and contributions of Latinos throughout the history of the United States, from the earliest known stories up to present day. It's a portrait of a great, enormously varied, and enduring heritage. A compelling treatment of an important topic.
DANCING HANDS How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln
As a little girl, Teresa Carreño loved to let her hands dance across the beautiful keys of the piano. If she felt sad, music cheered her up, and when she was happy, the piano helped her share that joy. Soon she was writing her own songs and performing in grand cathedrals. Then a revolution in Venezuela forced her family to flee to the United States. Teresa felt lonely in this unfamiliar place, where few of the people she met spoke Spanish. Worst of all, there was fighting in her new home, too—the Civil War.
Still, Teresa kept playing, and soon she grew famous as the talented Piano Girl who could play anything from a folk song to a sonata. So famous, in fact, that President Abraham Lincoln wanted her to play at the White House! Yet with the country torn apart by war, could Teresa’s music bring comfort to those who needed it most?
Margarita Engle’s childhood straddled two worlds: the lush, welcoming island of Cuba and the lonely, dream-soaked reality of Los Angeles. But the revolution has transformed Cuba into a mystery of impossibility, no longer reachable in real life. Margarita longs to travel the world, yet before she can become independent, she’ll have to start high school.
Then the shock waves of war reach America, rippling Margarita’s plans in their wake. Cast into uncertainty, she must grapple with the philosophies of peace, civil rights, freedom of expression, and environmental protection. Despite overwhelming circumstances, she finds solace and empowerment through her education. Amid the challenges of adolescence and a world steeped in conflict, Margarita finds hope beyond the struggle, and love in the most unexpected of places.
Nerdy Book Club Award Winner, Poetry and Verse Novels, 2019
NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books, 2020
New York Public Library Best Books of 2019
ALSC Notable Children’s Books Midwinter Discussion List
JAZZ OWLS A Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots
From the Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle comes a searing novel in verse about the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943.
Thousands of young Navy sailors are pouring into Los Angeles on their way to the front lines of World War II. They are teenagers, scared, longing to feel alive before they have to face the horrors of battle. Hot jazz music spiced with cool salsa rhythms calls them to dance with the local Mexican American girls, who jitterbug all night before working all day in the canneries. Proud to do their part for the war effort, these Jazz Owl girls are happy to dance with the sailors—until the blazing summer night when racial violence leads to murder.
Suddenly the young white sailors are attacking these girls’ brothers and boyfriends. The cool, loose zoot suits they wear are supposedly the reason for the violence—when in reality these boys are viciously beaten and arrested simply because of the color of their skin.
THE FLYING GIRL How Aida de Acosta Learned to Soar
In this beautiful picture book filled with soaring words and buoyant illustrations, award-winners Margarita Engle and Sara Palacios tell the inspiring true story of Aída de Acosta, the first woman to fly a motorized aircraft.
On a lively street in the lovely city of Paris, a girl named Aída glanced up and was dazzled by the sight of an airship. Oh, how she wished she could soar through the sky like that! The inventor of the airship, Alberto, invited Aída to ride with him, but she didn’t want to be a passenger. She wanted to be the pilot.
Aída was just a teenager, and no woman or girl had ever flown before. She didn’t let that stop her, though. All she needed was courage and a chance to try.
Eureka! Award Honor, California Reading Association
MIGUEL'S BRAVE KNIGHT Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quixote
Story of Miguel de Cervantes as he grew up and developed the idea for Don Quixote.
This fictionalized first-person biography in verse of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra follows the early years of the child who grows up to pen Don Quixote, the first modern novel. Miguel, inspired by storytellers and wandering actors who perform during festivals, looks to his own imagination for an escape from his family’s troubles and finds comfort in his colorful daydreams.
Story of a Cuban-American boy who visits his family’s village in Cuba for the first time—and meets a sister he didn’t know he had.
Edver isn’t happy about being shipped off to Cuba to visit the father he barely knows. The island is a place that no one in Miami ever mentions without a sigh, but travel laws have suddenly changed, and now it’s a lot easier for divided families to be reunited. Technology in Cuba hasn’t caught up with the times, though, and Edver is expecting a long, boring summer.
He was NOT expecting to meet a sister he didn’t know he had. Luza is a year older and excited to see her little brother, until she realizes what a spoiled American he is. Looking for something—anything—they might have in common, the siblings sneak onto the Internet, despite it being forbidden in Cuba, and make up a fake butterfly. Maybe now their cryptozoologist mother will come to visit. But their message is intercepted by a dangerous poacher, and suddenly much more than their family is at stake. Edver and Luza have to find a way to overcome their differences to save the Cuban jungle that they both have grown to love.
Order English language edition here. -- Errata
on page 146, CITES should be shown as having passed in 1973, not 1873.
School Library Journal's 23 Books to Honor Hispanic Heritage Month
Walter Awards Honor Book, from We Need Diverse Books
ILA More Poetry, Please List
25 Middle Grade #ownvoice books, Bookriot
ALL THE WAY TO HAVANA
So we purr, cara cara, and we glide, taka taka, and we zoom, zoom, ZOOM!
A family drives into the city of Havana to celebrate a cousin's first birthday. Before their journey, the boy helps his papa tune up their old car, Cara Cara, which has been in their family for many years. They drive along the sea wall, along the coast, past other colorful old cars. The sounds of the city are rich—the putt putts and honks and bumpety bumps of other cars chorus through the streets. A rich celebration of the culture of the Cuban people, their resourcefulness and innovative spirit, and their joy.
Musician, botanist, baseball player, pilot—the Latinos featured in this collection come from many different countries and from many different backgrounds. Celebrate their accomplishments and their contributions to a collective history and a community that continues to evolve and thrive today!
Biographical poems include: Aida de Acosta, Arnold Rojas, Baruj Benacerraf, César Chávez, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Félix Varela, George Meléndez, José Martí, Juan de Miralles, Juana Briones, Julia de Burgos, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Paulina Pedroso, Pura Belpré, Roberto Clemente, Tito Puente, Ynes Mexia, Tomás Rivera.
* Order English language edition book here * Order Spanish language edition book here
“When Mamacita chose to call me Estrellita, / it was her way of imagining a little bit / of starlight, deep down in that cavern / where only rare streaks of day or night / could reach—now, Lucero and I will be / Morning Star and Little Star, / a lit-from-within racing team!”
A young girl stricken with rickets and her mother face the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, the challenges of a new century and innovative teachers.
Dreams realized and dreams crushed exploring the freedoms only a magical horse can offer.
Award winning author Margarita Engle brings a tale of history mixed with a touch of fantasy.
* Order English edition here * Order Spanish edition here * Order bilingual English/Spanish edition here.
Goodreads Middle Grade/YA Speculative Fiction list
LION ISLAND Cuba's Warrior of Words (Isla de Leones)
In a haunting yet hopeful novel in verse, award-winning author Margarita Engle tells the story of Antonio Chuffat, a young man of African, Chinese, and Cuban descent who became a champion of civil rights.
Asia, Africa, Europe—Antonio Chuffat’s ancestors clashed and blended on the beautiful island of Cuba. Yet for most Cubans in the nineteenth century, life is anything but beautiful. The country is fighting for freedom from Spain. Enslaved Africans and nearly-enslaved Chinese indentured servants are forced to work long, backbreaking hours in the fields.
So Antonio feels lucky to have found a good job as a messenger, where his richly blended cultural background is an asset. Through his work he meets Wing, a young Chinese fruit seller who barely escaped the anti-Asian riots in San Francisco, and his sister Fan, a talented singer. With injustice all around them, the three friends are determined that violence will not be the only way to gain liberty.
This book is a poetic memoir of Margarita's childhood growing up as a child of two cultures, United States and Cuba, during the Cold War.
Margarita is a girl from two worlds. Her heart lies in Cuba, her mother’s tropical island country, a place so lush with vibrant life that it seems like a fairy tale kingdom. But most of the time she lives in Los Angeles, lonely in the noisy city and dreaming of the summers when she can take a plane through the enchanted air to her beloved island. Words and images are her constant companions, friendly and comforting when the children at school are not.
Louis loves to watch birds. He takes care of injured birds and studies how they look and how they move. His father wants him to become an engineer, but Louis dreams of being a bird artist. To achieve this dream, he must practice, practice, practice. He learns from the art of John James Audubon. But as Louis grows up, he begins to draw and paint living, flying birds in their natural habitats.
Released in April 2015, the story is inspired by the life of Louis Fuertes and the deep sense of wonder that he felt when he painted the sky.
DRUM DREAM GIRL How One Girl's Courage Changed Music
Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.
Released in March 2015, this story is inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba's traditional taboo against female drummers.
Starred review on the January 2015 issue of School Library Journal
SILVER PEOPLE Voices from the Panama Canal
One hundred years ago, the world celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal, which connected the world’s two largest oceans and signaled America’s emergence as a global superpower. It was a miracle, this path of water where a mountain had stood—and creating a miracle is no easy thing. Thousands lost their lives, and those who survived worked under the harshest conditions for only a few silver coins a day.
From the young "silver people" whose back-breaking labor built the Canal to the denizens of the endangered rainforest itself, this is the story of one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, as only Newbery Honor-winning author Margarita Engle could tell it.
This book features Raúl Colón's spectacular cover art and published in the U.S by Harcourt, in Australia and New Zealand by University Press.
2015 International Reading Association Notable Books for a Global Society
THE LIGHTNING DREAMER Cuba's Greatest Abolitionist
I find it so easy to forget / that I’m just a girl who is expected / to live / without thoughts.
Opposing slavery in Cuba in the nineteenth century was dangerous. The most daring abolitionists were poets who veiled their work in metaphor. Of these, the boldest was Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, nicknamed Tula.
In passionate, accessible verses of her own, Engle evokes the voice of this book-loving feminist and abolitionist who bravely resisted an arranged marriage at the age of fourteen, and was ultimately courageous enough to fight against injustice. Historical notes, excerpts, and source notes round out this exceptional tribute.
Fefa struggles with words. She has word blindness, or dyslexia, and the doctor says she will never read or write. Every time she tries, the letters jumble and spill off the page, leaping and hopping away like bullfrogs. How will she ever understand them?
But her mother has an idea. She gives Fefa a blank book filled with clean white pages. "Think of it as a garden," she says. Soon Fefa starts to sprinkle words across the pages of her wild book. She lets her words sprout like seedlings, shaky at first, then growing stronger and surer with each new day. And when her family is threatened, it is what Fefa has learned from her wild book that saves them.
The Wild Book is a novel in verse inspired by stories told by Margarita's grandmother about her childhood. The gorgeous cover is illustrated by talented multiple Pura Belpré winning illustrator, Yuyi Morales.
Latinas for Latino Lit 2014 Summer Reading Program
HURRICANE DANCERS The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck
Quebrado has been traded from pirate ship to ship in the Caribbean Sea for as long as he can remember. The sailors he toils under call him el quebrado—half islander, half outsider, a broken one. Now the pirate captain Bernardino de Talavera uses Quebrado as a translator to help navigate the worlds and words between his mother’s Taíno Indian language and his father’s Spanish.
But when a hurricane sinks the ship and most of its crew, it is Quebrado who escapes to safety. He learns how to live on land again, among people who treat him well. And it is he who must decide the fate of his former captors.
ALSC 2012 Notable Children's Book for older readers
ALA Best Books for Young Adults nominee
Poetry for Children Blog's Top 20 Most Distinctive Books of Poetry 2011
2012 White Ravens List
2012 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
SUMMER BIRDS The Butterflies of Maria Merian
In the Middle Ages, people believed that insects were evil, born from mud in a process called spontaneous generation. Maria Merian was only a child, but she disagreed. She watched carefully as caterpillars spun themselves cocoons, which opened to reveal summer birds, or butterflies and moths. Maria studied the whole life cycle of the summer birds, and documented what she learned in vibrant paintings.
This is the story of one young girl who took the time to observe and learn, and in so doing disproved a theory that went all the way back to ancient Greece.
Science is for Girls: 25 Books About Female Scientists
Kirkus Best Books for Children
NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Book
Amelia Bloomer Book
Top 100 Mighty Girls Picture Book
THE FIREFLY LETTERS A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba
The freedom to roam is something that women and girls in Cuba do not have. Yet when Fredrika Bremer visits from Sweden in 1851 to learn about the people of this magical island, she is accompanied by Cecilia, a young slave who longs for her lost home in Africa. Soon Elena, the wealthy daughter of the house, sneaks out to join them. As the three women explore the lush countryside, they form a bond that breaks the barriers of language and culture.
In this quietly powerful new book, award-winning poet Margarita Engle paints a portrait of early women’s rights pioneer Fredrika Bremer and the journey to Cuba that transformed her life.
International Reading Association Notable Book for a Global Society
Américas Award Honor
NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Book
Amelia Bloomer Book
Junior Library Guild Selection
ALSC 2011 Notable Children's Book
Latinas for Latino Lit 2014 Summer Reading Program
TROPICAL SECRETS Holocaust Refugees in Cuba
Daniel has escaped Nazi Germany with nothing but a desperate dream that he might one day find his parents again. But that golden land called New York has turned away his ship full of refugees, and Daniel finds himself in Cuba.
As the tropical island begins to work its magic on him, the young refugee befriends a local girl with some painful secrets of her own. Yet even in Cuba, the Nazi darkness is never far away . . .
New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
ALA Best Books for Young Adults Nominee
California Teachers Association Recommended Book
THE SURRENDER TREE Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom
Who could have guessed that after all these years, the boy I called Lieutenant Death when we were both children would still be out here, in the forest, chasing me, now, hunting me, haunting me . . .
It is 1896. Cuba has fought three wars for independence and still is not free. People have been rounded up in concentration camps with too little food and too much illness. Rosa is a nurse, but with a price on her head for helping the rebels, she dares not go to the camps. Instead, she turns hidden caves into hospitals for those who know how to find her. Black, white, Cuban, Spanish—Rosa does her best for everyone. Yet who can heal a country so torn apart by war?
Order book here This book is also available in bilingual English and Spanish translation.
Pura Belpré Award
Jane Addams Award
Claudia Lewis Poetry Award
Lee Bennett Hopkins Honor
ALA Best Books for Young Adults
ALA Notable Book
NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Book
Amelia Bloomer Book
Booklist Editor’s Choice
Kansas State Reading Circle
Michigan Great Lakes Great Books Award Master List
Junior Library Guild Selection
Finalist - Once Upon a Word Children's Book Award, Museum of Tolerance, Simon Wiesenthal Library
Bank Street College of Education Selection List of Reading Aloud With Children Twelve and Older
ALSC Notable Books
Great Social Studies Poetry Books list, from CLA Master Class: Poetry Across the Curriculum (Social Studies and Poetry)
Book Riot 100 Must-Read Latin American Book
Artists Without Walls Performance, New York
THE POET SLAVE OF CUBA A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano
A lyrical biography of a Cuban slave who escaped to become a celebrated poet.
Born into the household of a wealthy slave owner in Cuba in 1797, Juan Francisco Manzano spent his early years by the side of a woman who made him call her Mama, even though he had a mama of his own. Denied an education, young Juan still showed an exceptional talent for poetry. His verses reflect the beauty of his world, but they also expose its hideous cruelty.
Powerful, haunting poems and breathtaking illustrations create a portrait of a life in which even the pain of slavery could not extinguish the capacity for hope.