Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of many verse novels, including The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor winner, and The Lightning Dreamer, a PEN USA Award winner. Her verse memoir, Enchanted Air, received the Pura Belpré Award, Golden Kite Award, Walter Dean Myers Honor, and Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, among others. Her other books have received multiple Pura Belpré, Américas, and Jane Addams Awards and Honors, as well as a Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, and International Reading Association Award. Her most recent picture book, Drum Dream Girl, received the Charlotte Zolotow Award for best picture book text.
Engle lives in central California, where she enjoys helping her husband train his wilderness search and rescue dog.
Her new novel is Lion Island: Cuba's Warrior of Words.
From Engle's Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: How did you learn about the story of Antonio Chuffat, which you tell in Lion Island, and why did you decide to write about him?Visit Margarita Engle's website.
A: I read everything I can find about Cuba, so when I discovered Antonio Chuffat’s memoir about the nonviolent freedom struggle of indentured Cantonese laborers during the 1860s and ‘70s, I felt inspired to honor his efforts to document their petitions to the Emperor of China.
I am convinced that it was one of the largest mass uses of the petition format in history, and many of the petitions were written in verse.
Q: Your book combines historical and fictional characters. What did you see as the right blend of the two as you were writing?
A: When I read Chuffat’s memoir, I learned that while Chinese indentured laborers were struggling for freedom in Cuba, five thousand Chinese-Californians arrived on the island as refugees, fleeing anti-Asian riots in Los Angeles and...[read on]
Coffee with a Canine: Margarita Engle & Maggi and Chance.
My Book, The Movie: The Lightning Dreamer.
My Book, The Movie: Mountain Dog.
The Page 69 Test: Silver People.
The Page 99 Test: Enchanted Air.
The Page 69 Test: Lion Island.
Writers Read: Margarita Engle.