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THE POET SLAVE OF CUBA: A BIOGRAPHY OF JUAN FRANCISCO by Margarita Engle, Illustrated by Sean Qualls

Posted in reviewku: pirate (all), reviewku: plunder, middle grade, reviewku: poetry (all)


Reciting, writing.

Poems, poets. Famous, new.

Command performing.


Nitty Gritty:

Middle grade / YA (grades 7 and up)

Verse novel / Poetry

Historical Fiction / Biography

Shifting POV – First person from perspectives of slave (Juan Francisco) from 1797 as well as from perspectives of others

Setting – 1797 Cuba

Powerful painful poetry

Childhood recounted in poems beginning at age 6

Poetic phrases, questions and laments express heart and emotion

Character importance roughly shown in amount of poems devoted to that character (bulk of poems devoted to Francisco)

Free verse

Secrets, survival, persistence

Learning poetry at a young age

Expressing self through poetry – original and memorized

Performing at the will of others

Cruelty, horrors, degradation, humiliation