Thursday, July 12, 2018

Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics (Margarita Engle)

Title:  Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics

Author:  Margarita Engle

Illustrator:  Rafael Lopez

Target Ages:  8 and up

Genre:  Poetry Collection

Publisher Summary:
Musicians, botanists, baseball player, pilot—the Hispanics featured in this collection come from many different backgrounds and from many different countries.  Celebrate their accomplishments and their contributions to a collective history and community that continues to evolve and [to] thrive today!

Sample Poem:
“The Magic of Words”
about Jose Marti, Cuba

As a child on the island, I see injustice,
so I write about freedom, but at sixteen,
I’m arrested, and after months of hard labor
in prison, I am forced to flee my homeland.

In New York, I stroll through Central Park
with the children of other exiles, telling stories
of gentle elephants and enchanted shrimp…

I say that each day is a poem.
Some hours are green and peaceful.
Others are red, like festivals or storms.
I love teaching children how to tell t
heir own stories.

Engle’s first-person biographical poems give an authentic voice to figures, long since past.  Their passions and spirit pour off the pages.  Readers get only a snapshot of these people, but it is enough to tantalize readers to find out more. 

The collection spans events and people from 1713 to 2011.  Many of the figures are artists and traditionally accomplished. However, Engle features ordinary people as well.  For instance, Juana Briones was a healer, farmer, and rancher.  She also spoke against unfair treatment of Native Americans as well as fought to keep her land when the state tried to unjustly take it.   Another is Arnold Rojas, a noted vaquero (cowboy). He not only learned to train horses and tell engaging stories, but he advocated for preserving Latino culture. 

Each person made a mark in some small way, but few were widely famous in their time (or even now).  Through highlighting people in all walks of life, Engle illustrates the immense diversity within the culture as well as the importance of making a difference no matter who you are. 

The vibrant artwork is stunning.  The portraits capture the historical figures so brilliantly, often with symbolic images like a dove, a basket of herbs, or a book. 
Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics is a memorable and beautiful walk through history.  It is perfect for your diverse classroom and/or family library. 

Ideas for Extension Activities at Home or Lesson Plans for Teachers:
  • History:  While the figures may not be in the curriculum, the poems offer a quick and easy way to bring in diverse voices.
  • Writing:  Using Engle’s models, students can write their own first person biographical poems.
  • Literature:  Discuss the images used in the illustrations and poems.  Explore the connotations and denotations of each.  Then, evaluate how those images bring out a more multifaceted view of the people.
  • Science:  Connect relevant figures to the study of science.  In a study of plants, pull in Ynes Mexia or in a study of conservation, connect George Melendez Wright.
Historical Connections and People:
Juan de Miralles (American Revolution)
Feliz Varela (Colonial Era)
Juana Briones (California Statehood)
Paulina Pedroso (Cuban Independence)
Jose Marti  (Cuban Independence)
Ynes Mexia (STEM)
Louis Agassiz Fuertes
Aida de Acosta (Early Air Flights/Planes)
Fabiola Cabez de Baca
Arnold Rojas (Old West Vaquero)
Pura Belpre
George Melendez Wright (STEM)
Julia de Burgos (Puerto Rican Independence)
Baruj Benacerraf (STEM)
Tito Puente (Latin Jazz)
Cesar Chavez
Roberto Clemente
Tomas Rivera

Head over to Poetry for Children for more Poetry Friday poems.


  1. What a beautiful pairing of poetry and art. This sounds like a wonderful book to add to curriculum and collections.

  2. You know what? I need this as a mentor text! Not to it a beautiful book. Thank you so much for this review. I'm off to get my hands on a copy.

  3. I, too, love the variety in this book and how it shows heroism happens at all levels and areas of life. It's quite the celebration. Thank you!

  4. I enjoyed this book very much, too. I'm glad you reminded me of its beauty again. Thanks!

  5. What a lovely in-depth review! I agree with you-- this is such a wonderful book!

  6. Thanks for sharing details of this book - it sounds like an important one, now more than ever.

  7. Thanks for sharing this volume. It looks fantastic--an important books for classrooms, especially today. Maybe we should send a copy to Congress as well.

  8. Wonderful review--I looked at this book briefly in the bookstore but now am going to go back for a longer study.


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