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Battle of the Books

2013 Judge: Margarita Engle

Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of The Surrender Tree, which received the first Newbery Honor ever awarded to a Latino/a.  Her other novels in verse about the island include The Poet Slave of Cuba, Hurricane Dancers, The Firefly Letters, Tropical Secrets, and The Wild Book.  She has received two Pura Belpré Awards, two Pura Belpré Honors, three Américas Awards, and the Jane Addams Peace Award.  The Lightning Dreamer, Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist, will be published by Harcourt in March, 2013.  Margarita lives in central California, where she enjoys hiding in the forest so that her husband’s wilderness search and rescue dogs can practice finding lost hikers.

Please visit her at

Lightning Dreamer final coverIMG_0141


  1. In light of the discussion on the scarcity of published Latino authors and illustrators in Children’s lit, Engle’s marvelous contributions bring such a lovely layer of diversity to the cannon. Her varied voices and under-exposed historical situations have greatly broadened my understanding. Until I read TROPICAL SECTETS I had no idea that Cuba was a haven for European Jewish children when the United States turned them away. Here is hoping that more stories in kind will follow.

  2. ElleLibrarian says:

    Oooh – I didn’t know that, either! I will have to pick up a copy of TROPICAL SECRETS now.

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