Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle is a captivating collection that will elicit a passionate response from young activists and historians. It is also a great recommendation for kids who don't like long stories, since the poems are very brief and are related by various narrators.

Cuba's three wars for independence raged on as Rosa la Bayamesa, a nurse, tended to the sick and the injured. Using medicine made from plants, she helped the fallen soldiers, the children, even those who fought for the other side. This verse novel is based on actual events and people, and it follows the main character's life from 1850 to 1899. Even when they were pursued by her enemies, Rosa and her husband Jose never stopped helping others. Jose and a few other supporting characters, such as a little girl named Silvia, step in from time to time to share a poem. Rosa is the driving force behind the story. We could all learn something from her selflessness and determination.

The Surrender Tree was named a 2009 Newbery Honor Book and a Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year, is listed among the ALA Best Books for Young Adults, and also won the Pura Belpre Medal for Narrative and the Bank Street Claudia Lewis Award.

This book is available in multiple fashions - in English, in Spanish, and the audio book has multiple narrators, one for each of the main characters. Give it a read, give it a listen, recite it, share it!

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