The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano by Margarita Engle, Sean Qualls
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.
The Poet Slave of Cuba is the winner of the 2008 Pura Belpre Medal for Narrative and a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
Margarita Engle is a Cuban American poet, novelist, and journalist whose work has been published in many countries. She is the author of young adult nonfiction books and novels in verse including The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor Book, Hurricane Dancers, The Firefly Letters, and Tropical Secrets. She lives in northern California.
Sean Qualls is the illustrator of The Baby on the Way and Powerful Words. He lives with his wife and their son in Brooklyn, New York.
Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano 5 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
Juan Francisco Manzano¿s story, told by Margarita Engle in The Poet Slave of Cuba, is one that will break your heart through his suffering and then mend it time and again through his hope and survival.
Through lyrical verse, Engle tells of Manzano¿s life not only through his eyes, but also through the people that were connected to him whether through familial ties or servitude. Manzano¿s first owner, Doña Beatriz, thought of Juan as simply a ¿poodle,¿ a toy to be played with and thrown away when no longer needed for entertainment. However, she did say that upon her death Juan would be free from slavery. This promise was not upheld by his new, cruel owner, La Marquesa de Prado Ameno, who felt that Juan should have been grateful for everything she ¿gave¿ him. Engle¿s words and Sean Qualls¿ images powerfully tell the reader the brutality and injustice Manzano faced as a slave.
Enlge has written an award winning book that will draw in readers of all ages. Readers catch a glimpse of the suffering Manzano and other salves faced daily in Cuba. Engle¿s poetry gives a depth to the story that an informational biography may not have. Her poetic prose allows the reader to not only know Manzano¿s story, but to also feel it.