|Lightning dreamer : Cuba's greatest abolitionist|
Author: Engle, Margarita
In free verse, evokes the voice of Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, a book-loving writer, feminist, and abolitionist who courageously fought injustice in nineteenth-century Cuba.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG+
Reading Level: 6.70
Points: 2.0 Quiz: 158122
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 9.60
Points: 5.0 Quiz: 64779
Common Core Standards
Grade 8 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 8.RI Key Ideas & Details
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Craft & Structure
Grade 8 → Reading → RL Literature → 8.RL Range of Reading & Level of Text Complexity
Grade 7 → Reading → RL Literature → 7.RL Range of Reading & LEvel of Text Complexity
Grade 8 → Reading → RI Informational Text → 8.RI Craft & Structure
Kirkus Reviews (02/15/13)
School Library Journal (06/01/13)
Booklist (+) (02/15/13)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (02/13)
The Hornbook (00/05/13)
Full Text Reviews:
Bulletin for the Center... - 02/01/2013 Award-winning verse novelist Engle turns her attention to the life and writings of Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, the nineteenth-century feminist and abolitionist author. Familiarly known as Tula, Avellaneda, born to a wealthy family in Cuba, had a rebellious, restless nature and a desperate love for poetry and stories. Engle follows Tula from 1827, when she was thirteen and on the brink of being settled into an arranged marriage, to 1836, when she arrives with her family in Spain and begins her literary career. During those early years, Tula reads and spins tales of vampires and ghosts while she develops strong views about the enslavement of people, including women forced into loveless marriages. Refusing to marry the man her stepfather has chosen for her, she is sent away to the country, where her fertile imagination grows and the seeds for her first and best-known novel, Sab, are sown. Engle provides multiple perspectives on Tula’s influences by giving voice to her mother, her brother, and the family cook, as well as inventing voices for the fictional characters of Sab, who may have been inspired by actual people. In these poems, their longings for freedom, their fears, their loves, and their heartaches are elegantly crafted through images that make the island of Cuba and its people vividly real and connect them to the hearts of contemporary readers. Particularly effective are the voices of Caridad, the cook, who both inspires and is inspired by Tula’s fearlessness, and Manuel, who escorts his sister to secret readings even when he knows that her love for abolitionist poetry could get the entire family arrested and even executed. Readers who never knew the power of poetry will be inspired by both the story and the verse in which it is told. An historical note, bibliography, and samples of Avellaneda’s writings (in Spanish and in translation) are included. KC - Copyright 2013 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 01/01/2013 Gr 6 Up—Engle has produced a fabulous work of historical fiction about Cuban poet, author, antislavery activist and feminist Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda. Written in free verse, the story tells of how Tula, which was her childhood nickname, grows up in libraries, which she calls "a safe place to heal/and dream…," influenced by the poetry of José María Heredia. In Tula's voice, Engle writes, "Books are door shaped/portals/carrying me/across oceans/and centuries,/helping me feel/less alone." She takes elements from Avellaneda's novel Sab, which is believed to be autobiographical, and creates a portrait of a girl "expected/to live/without thoughts" who will not be forced into an arranged marriage, and who falls in love with a man who wants her to marry the suitor of the woman he has always loved. Tula speaks out against slavery and arranged marriages, finding them both a form of imprisonment. Engle inhabits the voices of various characters from the story, including Avellaneda's mother, who loses her inheritance because of Tula's refusal to accept an arranged marriage, and who ultimately banishes her to live with an uncle. - Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 02/15/2013 *Starred Review* Engle’s historical novel in verse is a fictionalized biography of the nineteenth-century Cuban abolitionist poet Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, known as Tula. Told in multiple voices, Engle’s elegant verses, rich in simile and metaphor, focus on the poet’s life as a teenager. Forbidden access to books because her mother believes reading and writing make women unattractive, Tula escapes to a nearby convent. There, she discovers volumes by the rebel poet José María de Heredia, whose words feed her own rebellious spirit, which is exemplified by her rejection of two arranged marriages. I long to write like Heredia, she muses, but what do I know of great cities and the wide lives of men? I’m just a silenced girl. My stories are simple tales of emotion. Seen as an outcast and a madwoman, she is sent to the country, where she falls in love with Sab, a freed slave, and continues to write about equality for slaves and for women. Engle’s richly evocative verses conjure up a time when women, like slaves, were regarded as property to be sold into loveless marriages. This is the context for a splendid novel that celebrates one brave woman who rejected a constrained existence with enduring words that continue to sing of freedom. - Copyright 2013 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 06/01/2013 Gr 6–10—Engle adds another superb title to her lengthening list of historical novels in verse. In The Lightning Dreamer, she brings to life the story of Cuban abolitionist and writer Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda. Tula, a 13-year-old with big thoughts, lives in fear of her encroaching betrothal. "My mother and grandfather are already planning to auction me away to the highest-bidding rich man," she rues. Even in such a simple statement, Engle metaphorically ties Tula's story to the plight of those for whom she's most concerned, the enslaved. Tula's dread of a loveless arranged marriage is second only to her fear that she'll be shackled to a slave owner. Whenever possible, she steals away to surreptitiously pour her thoughts out onto the page, an activity thought to be unsuitable for a young woman. Engle paints a vivid picture of Tula's world and summons her unique voice across the ages through clear, poignant verse. Historical notes at the book's end include brief biographies of Avellaneda and her idol, the Cuban poet José María Heredia, replete with excerpts of her writing. These excerpts provide readers with a direct sense of Avellaneda's style while evidencing how masterfully Engle has evoked her voice throughout the preceding verse. This is a must-have for collections where Engle's other works are known and loved or for anyone in need of a comparative study to our own country's struggle with slavery.—Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ - Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.