Multiaward-winning author Engle presents the childhood and youth of famed Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío.
Engle tirelessly brings forth yet another influential Latin American whose life is little known to children in the United States. Based on Darío’s autobiography, the free-verse novel is told in the voice of the poet as imagined by Engle. Readers learn of the mother who abandoned him at a young age under a palm tree; of the great-uncle who gave him a home; and of learning “the essential skill of storytelling” from this same great-uncle, “who tells tall tales / in a booming, larger-than-life / story voice.” Darío started writing poetry as a child and was soon known as “el niño poeta” (the poet boy). Impulsive and smart, Darío’s youth was both marked by events out of his control and controlled by his emotions. At the age of 19 he left Nicaragua for Chile, and—aside from one last poem briefly summarizing the rest of his life—it is here the novel ends. Unfortunately, the book focuses more on the emotional life that carried him forward than on the events surrounding him, leaving readers with the need to go elsewhere for a more complete picture.
Beautiful verse but insufficient depth. (author’s note, references) (Historical verse fiction. 12-15)