Cover image for Lion Island : Cuba's warrior of words / Margarita Engle.
Title:
Lion Island : Cuba's warrior of words / Margarita Engle.
ISBN:
9781481461122

9781481461139
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, [2016]
Physical Description:
163 pages ; 22 cm
Contents:
Historical background -- Running with words -- The beast of hope -- Free songs -- The shadow path -- Dangerous flames -- Listeners -- Voices heard across the sea -- Historical note -- References -- Further reading for young people.
Abstract:
Asia, Africa, Europe - Antonio's ancestors clashed and blended on the beautiful island of Cuba. Yet for most Cubans, life is anything but beautiful. The country is fighting for freedom from Spain. Enslaved Africans and near-enslaved Chinese indentured servants are forced to work long, backbreaking hours in the fields. So Antonio feels lucky to have found a good job as a messenger, where his richly blended cultural background is an asset. Through his work he meets Wing, a young Chinese fruit seller who barely escaped the anti-Asian riots in San Francisco, and his sister Fan, a talented singer. With injustice all around them, the three friends are determined that, in this time of violent rebellion and slavery, guns will not be the only way to gain liberty. Haunting yet hopeful, this is the story of a young man who became a champion of civil rights for those who could not speak for themselves. -- from dust jacket.
Audience/Reading Level:
Interest age level: 10 up.
Holds:
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Summary

Summary

In a haunting yet hopeful novel in verse, award-winning author Margarita Engle tells the story of Antonio Chuffat, a young man of African, Chinese, and Cuban descent who became a champion of civil rights.

Asia, Africa, Europe--Antonio Chuffat's ancestors clashed and blended on the beautiful island of Cuba. Yet for most Cubans in the nineteenth century, life is anything but beautiful. The country is fighting for freedom from Spain. Enslaved Africans and nearly-enslaved Chinese indentured servants are forced to work long, backbreaking hours in the fields.

So Antonio feels lucky to have found a good job as a messenger, where his richly blended cultural background is an asset. Through his work he meets Wing, a young Chinese fruit seller who barely escaped the anti-Asian riots in San Francisco, and his sister Fan, a talented singer. With injustice all around them, the three friends are determined that violence will not be the only way to gain liberty.


Author Notes

Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American poet and novelist. Her books include The Wild Book, Tropical Secrets, The Firefly Letters, The Lightning Dreamer, When You Wander, Mountain Dog, and Silver People. She has received several awards including the Jane Addams Children's Book Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the Américas Award, and the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award for The Surrender Tree and the Pura Belpré Award and the Américas Award for The Poet Slave of Cuba.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Engle concludes what she describes as a "loosely linked group of historical verse novels about the struggle against forced labor in nineteenth-century Cuba," focusing on the formative teenage years of Antonio Chuffat, a real-life messenger boy of mixed Chinese, African, and Cuban descent who became a champion of civil rights. Living in war-torn 1870s Cuba alongside enslaved Africans and indentured Chinese workers shapes Antonio's path to the point where he and his friends-twins Wing and Fan, whose family fled anti-Asian riots in Los Angeles-begin hiding Chinese fugitives, à la the Underground Railroad. Antonio also wishes they could free the enslaved Africans, while Wing longs to join the rebels' fight. Engle introduces readers to a little-discussed era of Cuban history through her concise verse and varied points of view, mainly those of Antonio, Wing, and Fan. This historical snapshot focuses less on the war than on its effects on Cuba's citizens as Engle's characters speak eloquently about gender inequality, racial injustice, and becoming a "warrior of words" through diplomatic and written means. Ages 10-up. Agent: Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Horn Book Review

In this last chapter in her series of verse novels about the struggle "against forced labor in nineteenth-century Cuba" (The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano, rev. 7/06, and companions), Engle tells the story of Cuba's Chinese indentured workers through the eyes of Antonio Chuffat, a Chinese African Cuban boy. Antonio wants desperately to help the laborers who seek freedom from the indenture system, with its endlessly renewing eight-year contracts, but as a twelve-year-old whose father would prefer he study, he isn't sure what his role can be. When he takes a job as a messenger, he learns firsthand that words have power. Antonio befriends Wing and Fan, Chinese American twins whose family fled California as a result of anti-Asian riots. The poems alternate among all three voices. Fan ponders her own freedom and place in the struggle as a female, while Wing decides that being a soldier is the path he must take. Beginning in 1871, the novel spans eight years, during which we see the three characters grow from conflicted young people into confident adults. Once again, Engle weaves fiction and fact to create a lyrical tale. Like Antonio, readers will discover the power of words and the importance of documenting stories so that histories are not forgotten. A page of contextual background, a historical note, references, and a very brief list of further reading recommendations are appended. celia c. prez (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Lion Island Running with Words ANTONIO CHUFFAT Age 12 Year of the Goat 1871 Excerpted from Lion Island: Cuba's Warrior of Words by Margarita Engle All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.