Cover of Martí's Song for Freedom shows Jose Marti in front of the Cuban flagJosé Martí was an activist for Cuban independence in the late nineteenth century, but because of his political activities in Cuba, he was exiled. He ended up spending many years in the United States. Martí’s Song for Freedom tells the story of his life but also captures that duality of his movement between Cuba and the United States by including all the text in both English and Spanish on the same page. Almost every page includes excerpts (in both English and Spanish) from his poems:

I come from every place,

And I’m on the road to everywhere

Yo vengo de todas partes

Y hacia todas partes voy

One of the challenges of a bilingual text is the sheer amount of writing that needs to find a place on every spread. This book is carefully designed to solve that problem; every page has text on the left side, the first column in English, the second in Spanish, and a full-page illustration on the facing page.Spread from book shows text on one side, illustration on facing page.

The back matter is also in both languages, and includes, on one page, all of the excerpts (in both languages) in the book.

I loved learning about a freedom fighter that I only knew about vaguely, and I loved having both languages available to me.

Martí’s Song for Freedom/ Martí y sus versos por la libertad, by Emma Otheguy, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal. Children’s Book Press: 2017.

Children with book around a globe

I participate every Wednesday in the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge at Kid Lit Frenzy.