Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hurricane Dancers

Hurricane DancersTitle: Hurricane Dancers (The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck)
Author: Margarita Engle
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication Date: March, 2011
Genre/Format: Historical Fiction/Novel in Verse
Summary: Quebrado finds himself a slave on a pirate ship after being traded around since his mother died and his father ran away. He doesn't even remember his own name, has just come to answer to el quebrado- half islander, half outsider- since his mother was from Cuba while his father was a sailor. He currently works for Bernardino de Talavera, the first pirate of the Caribbean Sea, who has recently captured Alonso de Ojeda, a brutal conquistador. However, Quebrado finally has his first chance of luck- Talavera's ship crashes in the middle of a hurricane and he is able to escape onto an island where he finds his first home in recent memory. 
What I Think: If you follow my reviews you probably know that I am sucker for historical fiction and novels in verse, so I am a sucker for this book.  Both aspects of the novel were well done- the poetry was beautiful and the historical element was interesting.  I love walking away from a novel with more knowledge than when I started and it is even better when I learn about something I never knew about (like pirates of the Caribbean in 1500s).  After finishing I went straight to wikipedia to learn more and have put a book listed in the references on hold at my library.  I love how historical fiction makes me fascinated about a subject like no history class has ever been able to. 

I also enjoyed how it was told from different points of view. It allowed you to get insight into the situation from different points of view.  I will say, though, that I walked away wanting more. I wanted more conflict, more resolution, more action... just more. From the cover, I am assuming there will be more books, so maybe they'll contain the more I wanted.

It will be interesting to see, though, how students respond to this book. It is well done, but I am not sure if it has the kid appeal needed to be popular. It may be too slow for readers that want to read about pirates, too piratey for the ones interested in the poetry- although a good book, I think only special readers will pick it up.  I do believe, though, it would be a good read aloud for the classroom because it has teachable moments. 
Read Together: Grades 6 to 10
Read Alone: Grades 7+
Read With: Pirates by Celia Rees, TheTrue Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, The Watch that Ends the Night by Allan Wolf, The Tempest by William Shakespear
Snatch of Text: 
"I listen 
to the song
of creaking planks, 
the roll and sway
of clouds in the sky, 
wild music
and thunder, 
the groans
of wood, 
a mourning moan
as this old ship
her true self, 
her tree self, 
and growing, 
on shore."  (p. 3)
Mentor Text for: Figurative and descriptive language
Topics Covered: Pirates, Slavery, Love, Freedom, Culture, Language, Conquest

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