Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert

Overview

2013 Pura Belpre Award for Illustration

As the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a former slave, Martin de Porres was born into extreme poverty. Even so, his mother begged the church fathers to allow him into the priesthood. Instead, Martin was accepted as a servant boy. But soon, the young man was performing miracles. Rumors began to fly around the city of a strange mulatto boy with healing hands, who gave first to the people of the barrios. Martin continued to serve ...

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Overview

2013 Pura Belpre Award for Illustration

As the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a former slave, Martin de Porres was born into extreme poverty. Even so, his mother begged the church fathers to allow him into the priesthood. Instead, Martin was accepted as a servant boy. But soon, the young man was performing miracles. Rumors began to fly around the city of a strange mulatto boy with healing hands, who gave first to the people of the barrios. Martin continued to serve in the church, until he was finally received by the Dominican Order, no longer called the worthless son of a slave, but rather a saint and the rose in the desert.

Winner of the 2013 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"With images of surpassing beauty and power and a text both simple and lyrical, Diaz and Schmidt tell the life of the first black saint of the Americas . . . A visual—and, it must be said, spiritual—delight."—Kirkus

"Schmidt's telling, touching in its simplicity, is well matched with Diaz's exceptional artwork, which is bold and referential in equal parts."—Booklist, starred review

"An artful and reverent portrait of a lesser-known figure."—School Library Journal

"Diaz's visualization of this story is magnificent."—Horn Book

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The child of an African slave mother and a white Spanish conquistador in 17th century Peru, Martin de Porres grows up in poverty and hunger. When he is eight, his father returns from Ecuador to take him and his sister back with him. Later, Martin is apprenticed to a cirujano in Lima, where he learns to heal. Unable because of his mixed blood to become a priest, Martin offers to clean and tend the gardens and the mules in the Monastery of the Holy Rosary for Father Lorenzano. There he is considered strange and scorned as the son of a slave. Still, stories of the wonders and healing he accomplishes circulate. Even the Spanish come to him for care, but first he tends to the poor in the barrios. Finally, Father Lorenzano lets him take his vows as a priest. For forty-five years tales of his wonders grow and spread. When he dies, all the people of Lima sing. Diaz uses mixed media in intense colors to construct the double-page scenes that visualize the life of this remarkable man. He creates a very solid world inhabited by characters with sculptural qualities within many architectural settings that exude spiritual emotions. Martin is pictured mystically, perhaps magically, appearing ageless until his deathbed scene. A note adds information on his life and canonization. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—Picture-book biographies of Catholic saints are usually limited to those best known, like Patrick, Francis, Joan of Arc, and Blessed Mother Teresa. Martín de Porres was the first black saint of the Americas, and he has a story as inspiring and evocative of Christian virtue as any other. Born the illegitimate son of a former slave and a Spanish conquistador in 1579 in Lima, Peru, he lived with his mother and sister in abject poverty until he was claimed by his father and eventually apprenticed to a surgeon and found to have healing powers that matched his great piety. He was accepted to be a servant at a Dominican monastery, with the explicit understanding that he, a mulatto, would never become a priest. He showed compassion for all people and animals and was said to have miraculous gifts. But it is his extreme humility that resonates with most biographers, including Schmidt, who tells the story of St. Martín's life in simple and eloquent language, emphasizing his humble servitude and great empathy. Diaz's multimedia illustrations are lush and beautiful, reinforcing the narrative and frequently using iconic images and stylized shapes that evoke stained glass. Some drawings of Martín, however, are inconsistent. His age occasionally seems to shift out of sequence, and the changing shape of his nose and eyes in particular results in some visual dissonance for young readers. Nonetheless, this is an artful and reverent portrait of a little-known figure.—Lisa Egly Lehmuller, St. Patrick's Catholic School, Charlotte, NC
Kirkus Reviews
With images of surpassing beauty and power and a text both simple and lyrical, Diaz and Schmidt tell the life of the first black saint of the Americas. Martín's mother was African, his father a Spanish nobleman. His father took his children from Lima, Peru, where they lived in desperate poverty, to Ecuador, where he gave them his name. Back in Lima, Martín was apprenticed to a healer, and at 15 he asked admittance to the monastery. Because of his mixed blood he could not be a priest, but he offered himself as a servant. His gifts as a healer became known throughout the city, and Spanish nobles waited for his healing touch while he first tended the poorest and most desperate, both human and animal. Schmidt recounts the story using repeated motifs: the dark eyes of the boy; the frowns of the Spaniards; the name-calling. Diaz achieves an extraordinary luminosity in his illustrations. The tenderness with which Martín treats his charges, the vivid expressions of those who scorn him and those who rely on him, and the balance of shape and stunning color make each page shine. A note offers further details, but, alas, there is no bibliography. A visual--and, it must be said, spiritual--delight. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547612188
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/26/2012
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 646,255
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 10.60 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary D. Schmidt is the bestselling author of Okay For Now , the Newbery Honor and Printz Honor book Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy , and the Newbery Honor book The Wednesday Wars. He is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

David Diaz has illustrated numerous award-winning books for children, including Smoky Night by Eve Bunting, for which he was awarded the Caldecott Medal; The Wanderer by Sharon Creech, which received a Newbery Honor; and Diego: Bigger Than Life by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, a Pura Belpré Honor Award winner. An illustrator and graphic designer for more than twenty-five years, he is also a painter and an accomplished ceramic artist. Mr. Diaz lives in Carlsbad, California.

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