Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hurricane Dancers by Margarita Engle –ESSENTIAL

Engle, Margarita Hurricane Dancers, 64 pgs. Henry Holt and Co, 2011. $11.46. Violence: PG


Told in the format of a poem, this book is set in the Caribbean in the 1500’s. It tells the story of young boy named Quebrado, who is a captive and slave on a pirate ship. His story is woven into some true events with real life characters. An evil conquistador is also held captive on board. When the ship sinks during a hurricane, only the three of them survived to make it to the island of Cuba. When they arrive they make contact with the local tribe, and since Quebrado speaks both Spanish and a native language, the two men must place their hopes of survival on the judgment of the boy. Interwoven, is the love story between a tribal couple, which offers a view of the castaways from the native islander perspective.

Although I thought this book was amazing, it will take some work to have students appreciate the value (and there are a lot of wonderful layers to learn about and appreciate). The beauty of the imagery and melodic use of language would be best illuminated with instruction. Therefore it would make a great classroom tool for curriculum connection (history lessons, poetry, reading comprehension). I think older students could be assigned to read this one on their own. Even though I do not think this book would be a popular entertainment read for students, it is a must buy education tool.

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.

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