With the assistance of Mlawer and Lázaro, National Young People’s Poet Laureate Engle brings to children the childhood of the great storyteller Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra in his native tongue.
Cervantes, recognized as one of the most important writers in the Spanish language, is also the creator of Don Quixote, one of the noblest literary knights of all time. In her trademark free-verse style, Engle tells the story of young Cervantes, the son of a barber-surgeon and gambler, and of the precariousness of the family’s economic situation due to his father’s debts. Weaving fact together with fiction, the author imagines that the seeds to the famous literary creation can be found in Miguel’s difficult childhood. Originally published in English, the Spanish translation by Mlawer and Lázaro beautifully captures the rhythm and language of the original: “Huimos de noche, / hacia Madrid, / con la esperanza de un futuro / sin / temores. / ¿Dónde encontraremos ese futuro imposible? / ¿Quizá solo en las páginas de mi / imaginación?” Colón’s remarkable pen-and-ink–and-watercolor illustrations have an old-masters quality that perfectly complements the narrative and brings to life the olive-skinned cast of Renaissance Spaniards.
This is a worthy translation of a beautiful and engaging book. (author’s, illustrator’s, historical, biographical, literary notes) (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)