Kirkus Reviews QR Code
HURRICANE DANCERS by Margarita Engle


by Margarita Engle

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: March 15th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9240-0
Publisher: Henry Holt

Newbery Honor author Engle (The Surrender Tree, 2008) spins three intertwined tales in frequently lyrical free verse. In the Caribbean in 1509, the cruel pirate Bernardino de Talavera has captured brutal Alonso de Ojeda, governor of Venezuela and a former conquistador. Mixed-race slave boy Quebrado, whose name means “broken,” works on Talavera’s ship as a translator and deckhand. When a hurricane sinks the ship, the three find themselves washed up individually on an island inhabited by naturales, native Ciboney Indians. Caucubú, a chieftain’s daughter, wants desperately to avoid an arranged marriage and to pursue her love for Naridó, a fisherman. Engle continues to explore issues of captivity and freedom in the historical setting of her ancestors. She tells her tale in the alternating voices of her five main characters, all of whom are historical figures save Quebrado. Quebrado warns the Ciboney about the dangerous Spaniards, and the two are cast out. He helps the young lovers flee and claims true and total freedom for himself. Taken individually the stories are slight, but they work together elegantly; the notes and back matter make this a great choice for classroom use. (bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-14)