Hurricane Dancers by Margarita Engle
Engle’s latest historical novel in verse explores piracy in the Caribbean Sea in the 1500s. It is the story of Quebrado, a fictionalized character, who is a slave aboard a pirate ship. Also on the ship is Alonso de Ojeda who has been captured. That ship, owned by real historical figure Bernardino de Talavera, becomes shipwrecked. The story is populated by people from history, but told primarily through the voice of Quebrado. It is a pirate story that removes the swashbuckling glamour and tells the bitter truth about what piracy was.
Engle captures such emotion in her verse, creating moments of pain, wonder and even delight in this brutal story. The book is immensely engaging, thanks to its brisk pace and lively subject matter. There is adventure and even a touch of romance in this story, giving light in the darkness of slavery and piracy.
Engle pays close attention to the native people of the islands, allowing glimpses into their lives and their beliefs. They make a great foil to the lying, manipulations of the pirates. It is a story that is elegantly crafted and vividly written.
A great choice for late elementary and middle school students who are interested in history and pirates. This is a book that is fast, fascinating and fabulous. Appropriate for ages 11-14.
Reviewed from library copy.
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