Review: Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert by Gary D. Schmidt

martin de porres

Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert by Gary D. Schmidt, illustrated by David Diaz

Martin de Porres was born to a former slave and a Spanish nobleman in Lima, Peru.  He lived in severe poverty in the barrios until his father took him back to Ecuador with him.  As Martin grew older, he returned to Lima and started learning to tend to the ill.  His healing power revealed itself while he was there.  Thanked for his healing, he was given the seeds of a lemon tree as a gift.  After planting the seeds, a tree grew overnight and had ripe fruit.  Word began to spread about this amazing boy.  Still, his mixed race prohibited him from becoming a priest, so he joined the Dominican Order as a servant.  He continued to heal others, eventually proving his ability and worth and becoming a priest after all.  Other stories of miracles surrounded him and he was finally canonized as a saint.  Through vivid writing and rich illustrations, the story of the childhood of this saint is told.

Schmidt’s writing warmly celebrates the wonders and miracles of Martin de Porres.  It is a story that starts with a boy who is the poorest of the poor, rejected by the priesthood and eventually ends with sainthood and life led in service to others.  In a world divided just as much between rich and poor, this story will resonate with modern young readers.

Diaz’s illustrations are filled with colors that are saturated and deep.  The deep hues of Martin de Porres’ skin are celebrated in the pages here.  Other parts of the illustrations have a feel of stained glass with sun pouring through.  The images are beautiful and celebratory.

A shining example of a picture book biography of a saint, this book will speak to modern readers as well as celebrate an amazing person.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from library copy.