An unusually slight offering from an author whose work is usually so compelling.

BRAVO!

POEMS ABOUT AMAZING HISPANICS

This book features the lives of a variety of Latinos who faced life’s challenges with aplomb and in their own ways.

Celebrated Cuban-American author Engle presents the lives of some well-known Latinos such as the musician Tito Puente, labor union organizer César Chávez, and National Baseball Hall of Fame player Roberto Clemente. Others are not as familiar to children today but still left their marks on our country: Father Félix Varela, who became an advocate of equal rights for Irish immigrants; Paulina Pedroso, who openly defied racial segregation; Aída de Acosta, who flew a dirigible six months before the Wright brothers flew the first airplane; and George Meléndez Wright, first chief of the National Parks Wildlife Division and a renowned conservationist. Given his close association with Cuba rather than the United States, the inclusion of poet José Martí is puzzling. Each one of the 18 people presented is awarded a double-page spread. On one page each person is stunningly portrayed in López’s strong and vibrant style; opposite is a first-person biographical poem that provides a glimpse into its subject’s life. At the end of the book the author has included a brief biographical note about each, yet between poem and note readers may find they are left with a large information gap. A further list of other outstanding Latinos is also included.

An unusually slight offering from an author whose work is usually so compelling. (Picture book/biography/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9876-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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An emotional and powerful story with soaring poetry.

LAND OF THE CRANES

A fourth grader navigates the complicated world of immigration.

Betita Quintero loves the stories her father tells about the Aztlán (the titular land of cranes), how their people emigrated south but were fabled to return. Betita also loves to write. She considers words like “intonation,” “alchemy,” and “freedom” to be almost magic, using those and other words to create picture poems to paint her feelings, just like her fourth grade teacher, Ms. Martinez, taught her. But there are also words that are scary, like “cartel,” a word that holds the reason why her family had to emigrate from México to the United States. Even though Betita and her parents live in California, a “sanctuary state,” the seemingly constant raids and deportations are getting to be more frequent under the current (unnamed) administration. Thinking her family is safe because they have a “petition…to fly free,” Betita is devastated when her dad is taken away by ICE. Without their father, the lives of the Quinteros, already full of fear and uncertainty, are further derailed when they make the small mistake of missing a highway exit. Salazar’s verse novel presents contemporary issues such as “zero tolerance” policies, internalized racism, and mass deportations through Betita’s innocent and hopeful eyes, making the complex topics easy to understand through passionate, lyrical verses.

An emotional and powerful story with soaring poetry. (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-34380-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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