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MARTÍN DE PORRES by Gary Schmidt


The Rose in the Desert

by Gary Schmidt & illustrated by David Diaz

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: June 19th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-547-61218-8
Publisher: Clarion

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)