Young People's Poet Laureate
Songs follow you
Of peace, love, and good fortune
Offered to the poet who kisses these waters
Virtue, inspiration, and strength
From “A LA LUNA” Juan Francisco Manzano
The Poet Slave of Cuba 1797 - 1853
Congratulations Margarita Engle, named by The Poetry Foundation as Young People's Poet Laureate "in recognition of a career devoted to writing exceptional poetry for young readers." This Cuban American author is the first Latino to receive the award. She will serve at Poet Laureate for a period of two years.
Here are some of my favorite images of Margarita Engle. They capture her gentle manner and her love of nature.
I distinctly remember my introduction to the work of Engle. While strolling through the book displays at an American Library Association conference, a small volume caught my eye. The title The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano and the stunning cover art by Sean Qualls intrigued me. I picked up a copy and was immediately entranced. What a remarkable man! I left that day with a copy of the book and a determination to seek out the works of Engle.
I had the honor to serve on the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award committee for 2016. Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir was selected as an Honor Book. I had the opportunity to read this volume many times, taking copious notes. The more I studied this book, the greater my appreciation for the depth and strength this memoir and the elegant poetry she employs to tell her story.
Look what's on my desk: Titles from Margarita Engle, Young People's Poet Laureate and all published in 2017. This trio of books explore and celebrate Hispanic literature, history and culture. Her work is indicative of her "passion, knowledge of nature, and curiosity about the world."
Here is a brief glimpse at these three exciting new poetic works. While each of these books have been published for children, the subject matter and the exquisite language and art are suitable for readers of all ages.
All the Way to Havana
by Margarita Engle ill Mike Curato
Cars! Beginning with the fabulous end papers, readers are treated to images of some amazing retro cars. But this book is about more than cars. It is a story of family and resourcefulness, a story of finding joy and pride in simple things. Take a trip to Havana in a blue 1953 Chevy. This is one ride you will want to take again and again. Mike Curato visited Havana to research this book and his attention to accurate detail shows on every page.
Miguel's Brave Knight: Young Cervantes and His Dreams of Don Quixote
by Margarita Engles ill Raúl Colón
"No giant or dragon
is bigger or stronger
than the human imagination"
The life of young Miguel Cervantes is brilliantly captured in a series of poems highlighting his struggles and dreams. Engles does not shy away from including the painful episodes of his childhood: an absent father, a family struggling to survive, the threat of the plague, and limited opportunities for schooling. This is counterbalanced by Cervantes imagination, love to story, and desire to learn.
Colón's gorgeous ink and colorwash illustrations are the perfect blend of reality and fantasy.
Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics
by Margarita Engle ill Rafael López
"So many, so varied, such a beautiful
mixture of dreams!"
This compilation of poems celebrating the contributions of Hispanic Americans highlights famous as well as lesser-known individuals. Back matter includes additional information as well as a listing of "more amazing Latinos." Strong colorful graphic art by López enriches the poetry. Kudos to the publisher for simultaneously publishing this book in Spanish and English.