Margarita Engle

Margarita Engle is an award-winning author of books for children, young adults, and adults. The daughter of an American father and Cuban mother, Engle spent her childhood summers in Cuba, where she developed a deep bond with her extended family and a lifelong passion for tropical nature, which led her to study agronomy and botany, along with creative writing. Engle and her family were visting Cuba in 1960 when diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba broke down, and faced a number of obstacles in returning to the U.S. From that point on, communication with her extended family was restricted and she describes the experience of suddenly losing contact with her beloved extended family and grandmother as something out of "science fiction."  Engle began to read about Cuban history, which led her to discover a number of the forgetten characters and events featured in her award-winning novels written in verse for young adults.

Books by This Author

A Song of Frutas

A grandfather and granddaughter look at fruit
Illustrated by: Sara Palacios
Age Level: 6-9
Language: Spanish

The little girl loves visiting her grandfather in Cuba and singing his special songs to sell all kinds of fruit: mango, limón, naranja, piña, and more!

Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics

Portraits of famous Latinos
Illustrated by: Rafael López
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

Musician, botanist, baseball player, pilot ― the Latinos featured in Bravo!, by author Margarita Engle and illustrator Rafael López, come from many different countries and from many different backgrounds.

Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics / Poemas sobre Hispanos Extraordinarios (Bilingual board book edition)

Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics / Poemas sobre Hispanos Extraordinarios (Bilingual board book edition)
Illustrated by: Rafael López
Age Level: 3-6
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

Adapted from the Texas Bluebonnet Award–winning Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics, this board book of poems and portraits from writer Margarita Engle and illustrator Rafael López celebrates the lives and accomplishments of a number important figures young readers will enjoy learning about.

Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln

Illustration of girl playing piano while flowers rise above her.
Illustrated by: Rafael López
Age Level: 6-9
Language: English

As a little girl, Teresa Carreño loved to let her hands dance across the beautiful keys of the piano. If she felt sad, music cheered her up, and when she was happy, the piano helped her share that joy. Soon she was writing her own songs and performing in grand cathedrals. Then a revolution in Venezuela forced her family to flee to the United States. Teresa felt lonely in this unfamiliar place, where few of the people she met spoke Spanish. Worst of all, there was fighting in her new home, too—the Civil War.

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music
Illustrated by: Rafael López
Age Level: 6-9
Language: English

Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule — until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.

Forest World

Two children in the forest
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

Edver isn't happy about being shipped off to Cuba to visit the father he barely knows. The island is a place that no one in Miami ever mentions without a sigh, but travel laws have suddenly changed, and now it's a lot easier for divided families to be reunited. Technology in Cuba hasn't caught up with the times, though, and Edver is expecting a long, boring summer. He was NOT expecting to meet a sister he didn't know he had. Luza is a year older and excited to see her little brother, until she realizes what a spoiled American he is.

Hurricane Dancers

Ship on sea
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

"Young Quebrado's name means 'the broken one,' a child 'of two shattered worlds.' The son of a Taíno Indian mother and a Spanish father, he is taken in 1510 from his village on the island that is present-day Cuba and enslaved on a pirate's ship, where a brutal conquistador, responsible for thousands of deaths throughout the Americas, is held captive for ransom. When a hurricane destroys the boat, Quebrado is pulled from the water by a fisherman, Naridó, whose village welcomes him, but escape from the past proves nearly impossible." — Gillian Engberg, Booklist

Jazz Owls

Illustrated by: Rudy Gutierrez
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

Set during the Zoot Suit riots, this novel in verse tells a fictional account of a dark time in American history. Thousands of young Navy sailors are pouring into Los Angeles on their way to the front lines of World War II. They are teenagers, scared, longing to feel alive before they have to face the horrors of battle. Hot jazz music spiced with cool salsa rhythms calls them to dance with the local Mexican American girls, who jitterbug all night before working all day in the canneries.

Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words

Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

In this thought-provoking novel in verse, award-winning author Margarita Engle tells the story of Antonio Chuffat, a young man of African, Chinese, and Cuban descent who becomes a champion for civil rights in 19th century Cuba. "Like Antonio, readers will discover the power of words and the importance of documenting stories." (Horn Book)

Pages

Anthologies and Collections

Because of Shoe and Other Dog Stories

Because of Shoe and Other Dog Stories
Age Level: Middle Grade (9-14)

For young readers who have ever wanted, known or loved a dog, the short stories in this anthology evoke the full spectrum of endearing doggy traits! With stories ordered from easiest to most difficult to read, Because of Shoe and Other Dog Stories is a book for young readers of varying levels to enjoy.