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08 February 2012

Review: Hurricane Dancers by Margarita Engle

Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck
Hurricane Dancers: The Story of the First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck by Margarita Engle is a 2012 Pura Belpre (author) Award honoree. 

Here's the summary from amazon:
Quebrado has been traded from pirate ship to ship in the Caribbean Sea for as long as he can remember. The sailors he toils under call him el quebrado—half islander, half outsider, a broken one. Now the pirate captain Bernardino de Talavera uses Quebrado as a translator to help navigate the worlds and words between his mother’s Taíno Indian language and his father’s Spanish.
But when a hurricane sinks the ship and most of its crew, it is Quebrado who escapes to safety. He learns how to live on land again, among people who treat him well. And it is he who must decide the fate of his former captors.

I really enjoyed that this novel was in verse form.  It made it a quick read, but there was a lot of information (feelings, etc) presented.  I really enjoyed the story itself---but then I love historical fiction!  To me, historical fiction brings the facts, but it puts a human (emotional) spin on them, not just facts straight from a textbook.  I really liked how Engle took the Caucubu and Narido legend/myth and worked it into the story.

Quebrado's transformation from the scared slave boy at the beginning to the strong person at the end of the book was astounding.  While he grew up, and had to face very adult decisions, he didn't lose himself or his "goodness".  He was so beaten down by the Captain, and had the opportunity to give it back to him, but didn't take it.  That shows such a strong conviction of character that I loved.
Overall, a good read. 

I read this book as part of my personal challenge to read all the 2012 Newbery, Caldecott, Pura Belre (author and illustrator) and Michael Printz winners and honorees.  I was very lucky this book was already in my public library.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this book. I thought the author did a beautiful job of getting across how truly challenging and frightening it was to get across the Atlantic ocean during that time - and about whether it's understandable or not for someone who's been treated horribly to lash out at his former captors.

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Gold stars given to good comments.