|Lion Island : Cuba's warrior of words|
Author: Engle, Margarita
A biographical novel about Antonio Chuffat, a Chinese-African-Cuban messenger boy in 1870s Cuba who became a translator and documented the freedom struggle of indentured Chinese laborers in his country.
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|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 6.80
Points: 2.0 Quiz: 184607
Kirkus Reviews (05/15/16)
School Library Journal (02/01/17)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (09/16)
The Hornbook (00/07/16)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 06/01/2016 Gr 5–8—Engle transports readers to the world of 1870s Cuba, where Chinese indentured laborers struggle for freedom in a complex atmosphere of rebellion and injustice. The first narrator, Antonio Chuffat, acts as a messenger for Chinese diplomats trying to argue for better conditions. He meets Wing and Fan, refugees who escaped the anti-Chinese San Francisco riots for Cuba, and their perspectives add depth to the narrative. Antonio and Wing have a close but contentious relationship—as Antonio believes in the power of words and diplomacy and Wing increasingly leans toward violence. Engle's verse moves briskly; once readers begin, they'll want to keep turning pages. This little-known and fascinating historical moment prompts Engle's characters to consider privilege and equity from many different angles; while fighting for liberty for the Chinese, Antonio notices that no one is attempting to free the African side of his family, and Fan considers the way society limits her choices as a woman. Young readers will be able to draw analogies to present-day injustice and to consider the power that words can have to make lasting change. VERDICT A beautifully written, thought-provoking work from a highly regarded author and poet.—Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 09/01/2016 Engle returns again to the history of Cuba in this unusual verse novel exploring the early life of Antonio Chuffat, a Chinese-Afro-Cuban teen who in the late nineteenth century helped liberate Cuba’s indentured Chinese laborers. Poems speak in the voice of Antonio; of his friend, Wing, who with his family and many others fled the anti-Chinese riots in California; of Wing’s sister, Fan, whose beautiful voice leads her to stardom in el teatro chino; of Perfecto SOA, the first fugitive they help; and finally of several different people pressed, often involuntarily, into labor, whose stories Antonio records in order to convince China to intervene. The early poems are on the programmatic side as they lay out the history and character motivations; however, once the story picks up momentum, it’s an intriguing look at a less widely known struggle for justice in the Americas. The key theme is the value of words in fomenting change, and though that notion is somewhat undercut by the focus on the high-action story of the teens’ daring hiding of an escaping laborer, it rises to prominence again with the poignant testimonies of workers forced by the Spanish to toil. This will give dimension to the history of immigrants, slavery, and labor in the Western Hemisphere, perhaps in conjunction with Aronson’s Sugar Changed the World (BCCB 11/10) or Engle’s other works. End matter includes a long historical note about the real Antonio Chuffat and a list of references. DS - Copyright 2016 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 07/01/2016 The newest historical novel in verse from award-winner Engle (Enchanted Air, 2015) fictionalizes the true story of Antonio Chuffat, whose mixed Chinese African descent made him an ideal messenger and, later, story-recorder for the indentured Chinese and African slaves in Cuba in the late 1800s. Young Antonio and his friends, Wing and Fan, collude to help victims of forced-labor practices escape to freedom. When word of Cuba’s inhumane policies reaches the Chinese emperor, he sends emissaries to collect the people’s stories, and Antonio is tasked with recording them. Their stories are interwoven with those of the three protagonists, to powerful effect. Once again, Engle has brought the dark truths of colonial history out of the shadows and into a young readership’s world. She draws attention to topics as diverse as forced migration, foreign policy, cultural blending, racism, poetry, love, peaceful resistance, and the power of words. This poetic glimpse into Cuba’s troubled past shines a light on an important human-rights activist and will pique readers’ curiosity about Cuba’s complicated history. - Copyright 2016 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2017 Gr 5–8—In this middle grade novel in verse, Engle transports readers to the world of 1870s Cuba. Antonio Chuffat is of African and Chinese descent and acts as a messenger for Chinese diplomats trying to argue for better conditions. While fighting for liberty for the Chinese, Antonio notices that no one is attempting to free the African side of his family. A beautifully written work that addresses social justice issues that are more important now than ever. - Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.