SPANISH LANGUAGE MATERIALS

Lion Island: Cuba's Warrior of Words

S. & S./Atheneum. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481461122.
COPY ISBN
Gr 5–8—In this middle grade novel in verse, Engle transports readers to the world of 1870s Cuba. Antonio Chuffat is of African and Chinese descent and acts as a messenger for Chinese diplomats trying to argue for better conditions. While fighting for liberty for the Chinese, Antonio notices that no one is attempting to free the African side of his family. A beautifully written work that addresses social justice issues that are more important now than ever.
In this last chapter in her series of verse novels about the struggle "against forced labor in nineteenth-century Cuba" (The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano, rev. 7/06, and companions), Engle tells the story of Cuba's Chinese indentured workers through the eyes of Antonio Chuffat, a Chinese African Cuban boy. Antonio wants desperately to help the laborers who seek freedom from the indenture system, with its endlessly renewing eight-year contracts, but as a twelve-year-old whose father would prefer he study, he isn't sure what his role can be. When he takes a job as a messenger, he learns firsthand that words have power. Antonio befriends Wing and Fan, Chinese American twins whose family fled California as a result of anti-Asian riots. The poems alternate among all three voices. Fan ponders her own freedom and place in the struggle as a female, while Wing decides that being a soldier is the path he must take. Beginning in 1871, the novel spans eight years, during which we see the three characters grow from conflicted young people into confident adults. Once again, Engle weaves fiction and fact to create a lyrical tale. Like Antonio, readers will discover the power of words and the importance of documenting stories so that histories are not forgotten. A page of contextual background, a historical note, references, and a very brief list of further reading recommendations are appended. celia c. pérez
Engle (The Poet Slave of Cuba and companions) tells of nineteenth-century Cuba's Chinese indentured workers through Antonio Chuffat, a Chinese African Cuban boy who wants desperately to help the laborers seeking freedom from the indenture system; through his job as a messenger, he learns firsthand that words have power. Engle again weaves fiction and fact to create a lyrical tale. Reading list. Bib.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

TOP STORIES

LIBRARY EDUCATION

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COMMUNITY FORM

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.