|Firefly letters : a suffragette's journey to Cuba|
Author: Engle, Margarita
A portrait of early women's rights pioneer Fredrika Bremer and the journey to Cuba that transformed her life.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG+
Reading Level: 6.20
Points: 1.0 Quiz: 135907
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 11.70
Points: 6.0 Quiz: 49043
Common Core Standards
Grade 6 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 6.RI Key Ideas & Details
Grade 6 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 6.RI Craft & Structure
Grade 6 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 6.RI Integration of Knowledge & Ideas
Grade 6 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 6.RI Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 6 → Reading → CCR College & Career Readiness Anchor Standards fo
Grade 7 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 7.RI Key Ideas & Details
Grade 7 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 7.RI Craft & Structure
Grade 7 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 7.RI Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 7 → Reading → CCR College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading
Grade 8 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 8.RI Key Ideas & Details
Grade 8 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 8.RI Craft & Structure
Kirkus Reviews (+) (01/01/10)
School Library Journal (02/01/10)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (04/10)
The Hornbook (03/10)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 12/15/2009 As in The Poet Slave of Cuba (2006) and The Surrender Tree (2008), Engle draws on little-known Cuban history to tell a stirring, immediate story in poetry. Based on the diaries and letters of Swedish suffragist Fredrika Bremer, who spent three months in Cuba in 1851, this title focuses on oppressed women, the privileged as well as the enslaved, in three alternating free-verse narratives. Fredrika remembers that back home in Sweden, she was kept hungry so that she would grow up to be thin and graceful. Her savvy translator is Cecilia, a teenage slave who remembers being captured in the Congo when she was eight years old and sold to a trader by her own father. Elena is a fictional character, a privileged girl in a slave-owning family who is forced into a life filled with “frilly dresses and ornate dance steps” that allows her little freedom. Through this moving combination of historical viewpoints, Engle creates dramatic tension among the characters, especially in the story of Elena, who makes a surprising sacrifice. - Copyright 2009 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2010 Gr 8 Up— This engaging title documents 50-year-old Swedish suffragette and novelist Fredrika Bremer's three-month travels around Cuba in 1851. Based in the home of a wealthy sugar planter, Bremer journeys around the country with her host's teenaged slave Cecilia, who longs for her mother and home in the Congo. Elena, the planter's privileged 12-year-old daughter, begins to accompany them on their trips into the countryside. Both Elena and Cecilia are inspired by their guest's independence, Elena to wonder if she can avoid eventual marriage and Cecilia to dream of freedom for her unborn child. Using elegant free verse and alternating among each character's point of view, Engle offers powerful glimpses into Cuban life at that time. Along the way, she comments on slavery, the rights of women, and the stark contrast between Cuba's rich and poor. The author takes some license with the real Bremer's journey; Elena is fictional, which the author is careful to point out in her author's note. She also includes a reference list for readers who want to learn more about Bremer. The easily digestible, poetic narrative makes this a perfect choice for reluctant readers, students of the women's movement, those interested in Cuba, and teens with biography assignments.—Leah J. Sparks, formerly at Bowie Public Library, MD - Copyright 2010 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 04/01/2010 The arrival of Swedish suffragette Fredrika Bremer in nineteenth-century Cuba not only caused a stir among residents, it led to a rare documentation of daily life on the island at that time, and Engle mines the real-life journals of Bremer to present her latest illuminative poetry memoir and historical exploration. Perspectives here primarily alternate among Fredrika herself, the slave Cecilia-her translator and on-island companion-and Elena, twelve-year-old daughter of white slave owners. The text is rife with metaphors of captivity and freedom: Cecilia’s enslavement is literal, and Elena also longs to fly beyond the “ornately barred window” that defines her privileged life. Fredrika’s relative independence was borne of great sacrifice, but she inspires both women to explore their own agency, Cecilia via artistic outlets and Elena through a plan to help Cecilia’s unborn child. Rich descriptions of the beauty of Cuba enliven the gentle plotline, from the starlit sky and lush vegetation to the bountiful cocuyos (fireflies), whose flight and capture symbolize freedom and entrapment throughout. As in The Poet Slave of Cuba (BCCB 7/06) and The Surrender Tree (BCCB 5/08), Engle uses spare free verse and powerful imagery to bring life to what may initially seem, at least to American youth, a little-known historical footnote. The author has a gift for imbuing seemingly effortless text with powerful emotions; though this is briefer and less nuanced than her earlier works, it remains memorable nonetheless. A supplement for lessons on slavery and an intriguing story of early feminism, this uncommon story will resonate when placed in the hands of the right reader. A note on the history and list of references are included. MH - Copyright 2010 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.