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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Poet Slave of Cuba

The Poet Slave of Cuba

A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano

Margarita Engle; Illustrated by Sean Qualls

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)


A lyrical biography of a Cuban slave who escaped to become a celebrated poet.

Born into the household of a wealthy slave owner in Cuba in 1797, Juan Francisco Manzano spent his early years by the side of a woman who made him call her Mama, even though he had a mama of his own. Denied an education, young Juan still showed an exceptional talent for poetry. His verses reflect the beauty of his world, but they also expose its hideous cruelty.

Powerful, haunting poems and breathtaking illustrations create a portrait of a life in which even the pain of slavery could not extinguish the capacity for hope.

The Poet Slave of Cuba is the winner of the 2008 Pura Belpre Medal for Narrative and a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Latino Interest.

CCBC Choice (Univ. of WI), NCTE Notable Child. Bks in Lang. A , NYPL Books for the Teen Age, American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults, Arizona Grand Canyon Young Readers Master List, ALA Notable Children's Books, Pura Belpre Author Award, IRA Children's and Young Adults Book Award, ALA Best Books for Young Adults, Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year, American Library Association Notable Children's Books, Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, Winner, Arizona Grand Canyon Young Readers Maste , IRA Teachers' Choices


My mind is a brush made of feathers
painting pictures of words
I remember
all that I see
every syllable
each word a twin of itself
telling two stories
at the same time
one of sorrow
the other...

Praise for The Poet Slave of Cuba

“An absolutely lovely book . . . that should be read by young and old, black and white, Anglo and Latino.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“Readers will hear the stories––and never forget them.” —Booklist, starred review

“A work of literary imagination. Engle's skillful portrait will spark readers' interest in Manzano's own poetry.” —Horn Book, starred review

“The moving poetry and finely crafted story will draw readers in and leave them in tears and in awe.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review


Reviews from Goodreads

Margarita Engle; Illustrated by Sean Qualls

Margarita Engle is a Cuban American poet, novelist, and journalist whose work has been published in many countries. She is the author of young adult nonfiction books and novels in verse including The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor Book, Hurricane Dancers, The Firefly Letters, and Tropical Secrets. She lives in northern California.

Sean Qualls is the illustrator of The Baby on the Way and Powerful Words. He lives with his wife and their son in Brooklyn, New York.

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

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