September 21, 2017

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Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad by Emma Otheguy | SLJ Review

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redstarOTHEGUY, Emma. Martí’s Song for Freedom/Martí y sus versos por la libertad. illus. by Beatriz Vidal. 32p. bibliog. Lee & Low. May 2017. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780892393756. BL

Gr 2-5 –The life of poet, writer, and freedom fighter José Martí (1853–95) comes alive in this lyrical, bilingual retelling of his everlasting impact on the people of his native Cuba. Growing up, Martí was an admirer of nature and fell in love with the beauty of the Cuban countryside. As he traveled the landscape, he observed the cruel enslavement of the Cuban people on sugar plantations during the period of Spanish rule. When he saw the injustice of slavery in his homeland, he knew he had to fight for Cuba’s independence and the freedom of the island’s people. Inspired by the U.S. Civil War, and President Abraham Lincoln, Martí called others to action and was jailed by the government for doing so. But not even imprisonment could silence him. Martí traveled extensively throughout the world, spreading his message of social justice, freedom, and peace. During his exile from Cuba, he found inspiration in the natural beauty of the Catskill Mountains in New York. Here he wrote Versos sencillos, a collection of poems that came to define the struggle for Cuban independence. Otheguy pens this biography in a series of stanzas that mimic Martí’s poetry, weaving together his vision of hope for the Cuban people with rich illustrations that pay homage to the vivid hues of his native land. VERDICT A sensitive and poignant tribute to one of Latin America’s most important historical figures that will encourage readers of all ages to fight for freedom and peace.–­Natalie Braham, Denver Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal June 2017 issue.

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