Monday, May 18, 2009

The Surrender Tree - Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle 2008

From 1850 to 1899, a former slave named Rosa nursed, healed, and comforted countless men, women, and children who fought on both sides of Cuba's struggle for freedom from Spain. She was a real person, not a work of fiction, as were Lieutenant Death, Jose, her husband, and General Weyler. The Surrender Tree is part biography, part history, and fully poetry. An interesting combination that Margarita Engle weaves together masterfully and is so deserving of the Newbery Honor awarded this book. I had heard of the Spanish-American war but was not aware that the first modern concentration camps made their debut during this time in Cuba. Even though it's poetry, flowing and visual, shelved in the 811's at the library, Engle's book teaches volumes about Cuba's bloody, long-lasting war for independence. A great supplement for any history class, as well as language arts. It's not often we see a book that can serve both. Well done, Margarita!

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