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Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck

by Margarita Engle

Published by Henry Holt, 2011
145 pages
ISBN: trade 978𢠪050-92400

Age 12 and older

Margarita Engle recounts the often brutal relationship between indigenous people and conquistadors in a multilayered story built around a Caribbean pirate shipwreck in 1509. Quebrado (the broken one) is a boy of mixed blood梡art indigenous Ta韓o and part Spanish梬ho was taken from his (Cuban) island home and enslaved. He is on the pirate ship with the captain, Talavera, and the pirate抯 hostage, Ojeda, both conquistadors, when it抯 caught in a storm. Quebrado is rescued by Narid, a young fisherman in love with Caucub, daughter of his island village抯 chieftan. Quebrado befriends the young lovers, who run away because the chief has promised his daughter to another. Meanwhile, Talavera and Ojeda make it to the island and are found by the villagers who took in Quebrado. They can抰 speak the Ta韓o language so must rely on Quebrado to speak for them. Quebrado shares his painful history as he speaks to the men抯 fate. 揂fter dancing and sphere games / the village cacique is willing / to execute my enemies / or banish them forever. / The choice is mine. Engle抯 poems in multiple voices pulse with feeling, whether it抯 the passion of the star-crossed lovers, Quebrado抯 desire for a place to belong, or the dismissiveness, arrogance, and eventual desperation of the two men who thought they were destined to conquer them all in a story woven from fact and fiction. Only Quebrado is a wholly fictional character.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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