One of my favorite questions to ask teachers and librarians is what books they wished they had to put in kids’ hands. A school librarian who works near San Diego told me she desperately wants more books with Hispanic protagonists. She worries that her kids don’t see themselves often enough in the books she has to give them. I think she’s going to be happy to see a copy of Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics.
In this collection, the poet Margarita Engle has written short biographical poems about eighteen Hispanics, some still famous but most not, all with a connection the United States. It was a fascinating set of people–scientists, athletes, artists, teachers–and her poems are beautiful, cutting to the heart of why each person is memorable and remarkable. I was surprised that I’d never heard of some of these people–George Melendez Wright, who pioneered animal protection in the National Park System, Baruj Benacerraf who won a Nobel Prize, Juan de Miralles, who fought with George Washington.
Opposite every poem is a wonderful portrait by Rafael Lopez, who also illustrated Engle’s book Drum Dream Girl. His website has images showing his process in creating the portraits.
This is a fascinating collection that urges the reader to expand the definition of national hero.
Bravo! Poems about Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez. Henry Holt: 2017.