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)