Personal Born September 2, 1951, in Pasadena, CA; daughter of Martin (an artist) and Eloisa (a quilter) Mondnis; mar¬ ried Curtis E. Engle (a research entomologist), 1978; children: Victor, Nicole. Ethnicity: "Cuban-American." Education: California State Polytechnic University, B.S., 1974; Iowa State University, M.S., 1977; doctoral study at University of California, Riverside, 1983. Poli¬ tics: "Human rights advocate." Religion: Christian. Hob¬ bies and other interests: Horsemanship, western equita¬ tion, trail riding. Addresses Agerar—Julie Castiglia, 1155 Camino Del Mar, Ste. 510, Del Mar, С A 92014. E-mail—margarita ©margarita engle.com. Career Botanist, poet, novelist, and journalist. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, associate professor of agronomy, 1978-82. Member Pen USA West, Amnesty International, Freedom House of Human Rights, Freedom to Write Committee. Awards, Honors CINTAS fellowship, Arts International, 1994-95; San Diego Book Award, 1996, for Skywriting; Willow Re¬ view Poetry Award, 2005; Américas Award for Chil¬ dren's and Young-Adult Literature, Consortium of Latin-American Studies Programs, Pura Belpré Award, American Library Association (ALA), International Reading Association Children's Book Award and Teach¬ ers' Choice award, ALA Best Book for Young Adults selection, Notable Children's Books in the Language Arts selection, National Council of Teachers of English, Best Books designation, Bank Street College of Educa¬ tion, Best Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library, and Cooperative Children's Book Cen¬ ter Choice selection, all с 2008, all for The Poet Slave of Cuba; Américas Award, 2008, and Pura Belpré Award, Newbery Medal Honor Book designation, Jane Addams Award, Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, Lee Ben¬ nett Hopkins Honor designation, ALA Notable Book se¬ lection, and Notable Social Studies Book selection, Na¬ tional Council of Social Studies (NCSS)/ Children's Book Council (CBC), all с 2009, all for The Surrender Tree; Sydney Taylor Book Award, Association of Jew¬ ish Libraries, Paterson Prize, Américas Award Com¬ mended Title, and 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing selection, New York Public Library, all с 2009, all for Tropical Secrets; Pura Belpré Honor Book designation, Jane Addams Award finalist, NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Book selection, IRA Notable Book for a Global Society selection, and Cafifornia Book Award finalist, all 2010, all for The Firefly Letters; NCSS/CBC No¬ table Social Studies Book selection, 2010, for Summer Birds; ALA Best Books for Young Adults listee nomi¬ nation, 2011, for Hurricane Dancers. Writings Singing to Cuba (adult novel), Arte Público Press (Hous¬ ton, TX), 1993. Skywriting: A Novel of Cuba (adult novel), Bantam (New York, NY), 1995. The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano (nonfiction for children), illustrated by Sean Quails, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2006. The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Free¬ dom (for young adults), Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2008. Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2009. Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian, illustrated by Julie Paschkis, Holt (New York, NY), 2010. The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2010. Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Ship¬ wreck, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2011. The Wild Book (verse novel), illustrated by Yuyi Morales, Harcourt (New York, NY), 2012. Contributor to periodicals, including Atlanta Review, Bilingual Review, California Quarterly, Caribbean Writer, Hawai'i Pacific Review, and Nimrod. Adaptations The Surrender Tree and Tropical Secrets were adapted for audiobook by Listening Library, 2008 and 2009 re¬ spectively. Sidelights The author of adult novels as well as books for yoimg readers, Cuban-American writer Margarita Engle has been honored with some of the top awards in her field, including the Pura Belpré award, the Américas award, and the prestigious Newbery Medal. In addition to her award-winning free-verse novels The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom and The Wild Book, Engle has also authored the picmre books The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano and Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian, the latter illustrated by Julie Paschkis. Her sto¬ ries for older children include Tropical Secrets: Holo¬ caust Refugees in Cuba and Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck. The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba, Engle's fictionalized narrative of a middle-aged Swedish traveler who be¬ friended two other women during her visit to the island in 1851, received the sort of critical reception that has been characteristic when discussing her work. "Using elegant free verse and alternating among each charac¬ ter's point of view, Engle offers powerful glimpses into Cuban life," noted School Library Journal contributor Leah J. Sparks, while a Kirkus Reviews critic wrote of the author that her "poetry is a gossamer thread of subtle beauty weaving together three memorable characters who together find hope and courage." Engle fell in love with reading and writing as a young child. While growing up, her mother instilled her with a love for Cuba, recounting to the young Engle many sto¬ ries of her homeland. Despite Engle's love of stories and poetry, she decided to go to school to study agronomy and botany, a form of rebellion as well as a way to connect with the wilderness she had missed while growing up in Los Angeles. She eventually be¬ came a professor of agronomy and married Curtis Engle, an agricultural entomologist. While raising her two children, she revisited her love of writing, submit¬ ting her haiku and having it published, as well as writ¬ ing editorial columns for news organizations. After a trip to Cuba in 1991, thirty years after visiting the is¬ land as a child, Engle was inspired to write two adult novels about Cuba: Singing to Cuba and Skywriting: A Novel of Cuba. While traveling in Cuba, Engle learned the story of Juan Franciso Manzano, a slave who became a well- known poet. She struggled for years to write an histori¬ cal novel about Manzano, but the words never came. Eventually, she changed directions and crafted a picture- book biography of Manzano in verse. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called TTze Poet Slave of Cuba—which won the Americas Award and the Pura Belpré Award—a "powerful and accessible biography." Engle "achieves an impressive synergy between poetry and biography," wrote a critic for Publishers Weekly. Commenting on Engle's depiction of Manzano telling himself stories while being beaten by his owners, Hazel Rochman wrote in Booklist that "today's readers will hear the sto¬ ries . . . and never forget them," while in School Li¬ brary Journal Carol Jones Collins concluded that The Poet Slave of Cuba "should be read by young and old, black and white, Anglo and Latino." Like The Poet Slave of Cuba, The Surrender Tree is a story told in poetry that focuses on the fife of a Cuban slave. Rosa la Bayamesa was born into slavery, but af¬ ter she was freed by her owner she became a rebel, fighting for Cuban independence from Spain. She worked as a nurse, healing the wounded on both sides of the conflict. "TTze Surrender Tree is hauntingly beau¬ tiful, revealing pieces of Cuba's troubled past through the poetry of hidden moments," wrote Jill Heritage Maza, the School Library Journal critic adding that the small details in Engle's poetry illuminate the larger story. Jane Lopez-Santillana, writing in Horn Book, called Engle's poetry "haunting," and a Kirkus Reviews contributor concluded of The Surrender Tree that "young readers will come away inspired by these por¬ traits of courageous ordinary people." Engle once again returns readers to Cuba in Tropical Secrets, but here the events occurring throughout Eu¬ rope due to World War II overshadow the beauty of the island for at least one young boy. For Daniel, Cuba is far from his native Germany, and it is also the last port of call for the thirteen year old since his ship was re¬ pelled from both Ellis Island and a hoped-for safe har¬ bor in Canada. Like many of his shipmates, Daniel is a Jewish refugee escaping Nazi persecution; without his parents, he eventually finds others—such as the elderly Russian Jew David—who share his faith and his Euro- pean cultural heritage and learns to make Cuba his home. Praising Engle's free-verse text, Geri Diorio added in School Library Journal that Tropical Secrets will captivate even reluctant readers due to its "elo¬ quent poems and compelling characters." EngleV'tire- less drive to give voice to the silenced in Cuban history provides fresh options for young readers," asserted a Kirkus Reviews writer, noting the author's characteristic use of "alternating first-person nanative poems." Also praising the evocative novel, a Publishers Weekly critic concluded of Tropical Secrets that "Engle gracefully packs a lot of information into a spare and elegant nar¬ rative that will make this historical moment accessible to a wide range of readers." Described by School Library Journal contributor Jef¬ frey Hastings as a "welcome antidote" to the many "one-sided accounts of [the] brave European explorers" whose exploits established the historical record of the so-called Age of Conquest, Hurricane Dancers focuses on the half-Taino slave Quebrado, who has spent most of his life on the Caribbean, working aboard a succes¬ sion of Spanish pirate ships. Because of the boy's knowledge of the native language, his cunent captain employs Quebrado as translator, hoping to deceive the locals when they harbor their vessel. When a severe storm destroys the pirate ship, Quebrado swims to shore where he now has the chance to create a new future for himself. He also has the chance to reconcile his past by i Ψ Margarita Engle's biographical picture book Summer Birds features colorful stylized illustrations by Julia Paschkis. (Illustration copyright © 2010 by Juhe Paschkis. Reproduced with pennission of Henry Holt & Company, LLC.) meting out justice to those of his former masters who also survived and are now prisoners of the Taino. While Quebrado is a Actional character, the other central ac¬ tors in the story are real people, and Engle documents their stories in the source material contained in a con¬ cluding author's note. Employing "potent rhythms, sounds, and original, unforgettable imagery," in the words of Booklist contributor Gillian Engberg, Hurri¬ cane Dancers successfully "capture[s] elemental iden¬ tity questions and the infinite sorrows of slavery and dislocation." Hastings deemed the novel both "unique and inventive," predicting that the author's "highly read¬ able" verse will "provide . . . plenty of fodder for dis¬ cussion" among thoughtful readers. Also praising the novel, a Kirkus Reviews writer asserted that the five in¬ tertwining verse nanatives in Hurricane Dancer "work together elegantly" to further Engle's study of "issues of captivity and freedom in the historical setting of her ancestors." Engle turns to younger readers in Summer Birds, which is set in Germany during the seventeenth century and focuses on thirteen-year-old Maria Sibylla Merian. Maria is fascinated by butterflies (then called "summer birds") and spends a great deal of time observing them. As she watches caterpillars spin cocoons and emerge as winged creatures, she questions the prevailing scientific wisdom that accepts spontaneous generation: the belief that insects can be created from decomposing earth or plant material. Although her view is considered some¬ what heretical, Maria has the artistic and observational skills to document her theory, and her paintings and writings eventually influenced Swedish botanist and taxonomist Carl Linnaeus. In addition to providing read¬ ers with a "fascinating glimpse of a woman far head of her time," Summer Birds "offers a fresh perspective on the study of insects," according to School Library Jour¬ nal critic Carol S. Surges, and a Kirkus Reviews writer noted that Paschkis's "rich, gouache folk-style paint¬ ings" capture Merian's "joy in the natural world." Engle once noted: "I write to express my hopes, pas¬ sions, fears, and beliefs. I write to communicate, ex¬ plore, and understand. Usually I am haunted by a theme, or by characters, a setting, or events. Until I have ex¬ perimented with them, I do not understand them clearly. I go through a slow process of trial and enor, false starts, wrong turns, and humbling misjudgments. For every one hundred publishable pages, I have discarded perhaps 1,000 pages of 'enor.' The process is emotion¬ ally exhausting, but I know I am always striving to be honest about the general themes of freedom and faith, and about specific tales of the search for freedoms, both personal and political. I have been deeply influenced by the suffering of my relatives in Cuba and by my love for the island, despite its desperation." Biographical and Critical Sources PERIODICALS Booklist, February 15, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Fran¬ cisco Manzano, p. 95; March 15, 2008, Hazel Roch¬ man, review of The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom, p. 53; January 1, 2009, Hazel Rochman, review of Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refu¬ gees in Cuba, p. IA; December 15, 2009, Hazel Roch¬ man, review of Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba, p. 32; January 1, 2010, Jeannine Atkins, in¬ terview with Engle, p. S38; March 15, 2010, Gillian Engberg, review of Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian, p. 43; January 1, 2011, Gillian Eng¬ berg, review of Hurricane Dancers: The First Carib¬ bean Pirate Shipwreck, p. 88. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 2010, Maggie Hommel, review of The Firefly Letters, p. 334. Fresno Bee, February 18, 2008, Felicia Cousart Matlosz, "Paying Homage to a Poet." Яоги Book, July-August, 2006, Lelac Almagor, review of The Poet Slave of Cuba, p. 459; July-August, 2008, Jane Lopez-Santillana, review of TTze Surrender Tree, p. 465; March-April, 2010, Sarah Ellis, review of The Firefly Letters, p. 54. Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2006, review of The Poet Slave of Cuba, p. 289; March 15, 2008, review of The Sur¬ render Tree; February 1, 2009, review of Tropical Se¬ crets; January 1, 2010, review of The Firefly Letters; March 1, 2010, review of Summer Birds; January 15, 2011, review of Hurricane Dancers. MELUS, spring, 1998, Gisèle M. Requeña, "The Sounds of Silence: Remembering and Creating in Margarita Engle's Singing to Cuba, p. 147. Publishers Weekly, June 5, 1995, review of Skywriting, p. 52; April 17, 2006, review of TTze Poet Slave of Cuba, p. 190; April 6, 2009, review of Tropical Secrets, p. 48; March 15, 2010, review of TTze Firefly Letters, p. 55. School Library Journal, April, 2006, Carol Jones Collins, review of TTze Poet Slave of Cuba, p. 154; June, 2008, Jill Heritage Maza, review of The Surrender Tree, p. 158; June, 2009, Geri Diorio, review of Tropical Se¬ crets, p. 122; February, 2010, review of The Firefly Letters, p. 129; July, 2010, review of Summer Birds, p. IA; March, 2011, Jeffrey Hastings, review of Hurri¬ cane Dancers, p. 160. Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 2011, Nancy Wallace, re¬ view of Hurricane Dancers, p. 162. ONLINE Macmillan Web site, http://us.macmillan.com/ (July 15, 2011), "Margarita Engle." Poet Seers Web site, http://www.poetseers.org/ (October 2, 2008), Margarita Engle, "Layers of Time." School Library Journal Online, http://www.schoollibrary journal.com/ (March 4, 2009), Debra Lau Whelan, "Margarita Engle's Historic Newbery Honor."*