Tag Archive | Cuba

She writes hopeful, worried LETTERS FROM CUBA to war-darkened Poland, by Ruth Behar (MG book review)

book cover of Letters From Cuba, by Ruth Behar. Published by Nancy Paulsen Books/ Penguin Random House | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Cross the wide ocean,
earn money slowly, slowly –
bring family to safety – soon, soon!

Papa went first to Cuba, trying to make enough money so their whole family could escape the increasing peril of merely being Jewish in Poland.

Esther is the oldest child, ready to travel across the sea and help Papa grow their savings faster, 11 years old on a ship crossing the Atlantic in 1938, writing letters to her sister Malka in an old notebook until time to send them.

Always-summer Cuba means sandals instead of woolen stockings, a small village in the hills away from the city, walking and walking with their peddler’s packs to sell goods throughout the countryside where the air smells like candy from the sugar mills.

As Esther learns Spanish, she’s befriended by Francisco Chang who came from China to his uncle’s store, Doctor Pablo and Senora Graciela whose daughter died young, and Manuela’s formerly enslaved grandmother who honors the gods of her African ancestors.

Angry sugar mill owner Eduardo thinks she and Papa don’t belong here, so the young woman takes refuge in the poems of Juan Marti shared by Senora Graciela as Esther designs and sews stylish cotton dresses that become popular in Havana.

Can she make enough dresses by herself to fill the orders?
Can they earn enough money to get their family here soon?
As Europe rejects Jewish people, will Cuba still welcome them?

As powerful people like Eduardo begin echoing Hitler’s anger and lies, Esther and Papa work hard and pray harder to bring their family to safety!

What letters have shared family stories with you?
**kmm

Book Info: Letters From Cuba / Ruth Behar. Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random House, 2020. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

E is empowering words by THE LIGHTNING DREAMER: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist, by Margarita Engle (YA book review)

book cover of The Lightning Dreamer, by Margarita Engle. Published by Harcourt | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Reading is escape.
Forbidden now, freedom removed –
She will tell new stories!

Of course she must marry someday, but Tula is told by her grandfather that the highest bidder will claim her next year, that her mother and stepfather will gain enough money in 1828 to buy more slaves to save their Cuban sugar plantation from ruin, that the thirteen year old’s too-brief time with her late father’s books will end forever.

Sent to wait at the convent, Tula meets nuns who accept every child abandoned because their skin is darker, who save every book they can find, who allow her to read the silenced poet Heredia’s calls for equality.

She writes plays and allegories that hide freedom’s songs within folktales, hiding them in her brother’s room. She dreams with her best friends of marriage based on love. She is betrayed, and yet continues composing messages of hope.

As the abolition of slavery is discussed publicly in America’s north, silence reigns on the island of Cuba, enforced by the whip and imprisonment. But what prison bars can keep captive the words of truth?

This novel-in-verse by the author of Jazz Owls (my review) and With a Star in My Hand (my review) sprinkles the voices of Mama, the nuns, and others among Tula’s poems about dreams, love, and a better future for all. Based on the life of Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda (1814-1873).

What are your powerful dreams?
**kmm

Book info: The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist / Margarita Engle. Harcourt, hardcover 2013, paperback 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

DON’T DATE ROSA SANTOS or the sea will take you! by Nina Moreno (YA book review)

book cover of Don't Date Rosa Santos / Nina Moreno.  Published by Disney Hyperion | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Cursed by the inexorable ocean,
Claimed by the Cuban heritage never discussed,
where is Rosa called to go?

Their unborn daughters never knew their fathers who died in the tumultuous seas…her grandmother and mother are so alike, yet so different.

Mimi is the healer and solid cornerstone of their Florida town, where Mama occasionally wanders back from her art commissions, where Rosa decided to stay after a childhood on the road, where her grandmother’s beloved Cuba is the shared heritage of many, and the sea’s curse on men loved by the Santos women is very well-known.

Rosa is fast-tracking high school to make sure she gets into a college with study abroad in Cuba (why doesn’t Mimi want to go back or even talk about her homeland?) and will never, ever date a sailor (ever).

When Port Coral’s festival loses its sponsor and developers threaten to buy up the waterfront, Rosa’s legendary organizing skills help her neighbors find their own way to bring tourist dollars to town and bring young sailor Alex into her life.

Everyone knows you don’t date Santos women, yet baker Alex dares…and Rosa dreams of happy endings, for once.

When have you gone against ‘common wisdom’ and come out ahead?
**kmm

Book info: Don’t Date Rosa Santos / Nina Moreno. Disney Hyperion, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Fight? No, Jazz Owls only want to dance, by Margarita Engle, art by Rudy Gutierrez (book review)

book cover of Jazz Owls: a Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots / Margarita Engle; art by Rudy Gutierrez. Atheneum Books, 2018 | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Smile and dance and don’t make trouble,
Keep up servicemen’s morale at the USO,
War is overseas and in their own neighborhood!

“The musicians call us owls
because we’re patriotic girls
who stay up LATE after working all day,
so we can DANCE with young sailors
who are on their way
to triumph
or death
on distant
ocean waves,” says 16-year-old Marisela in one of the first poems of Jazz Owls (p. 6)

But everyone of every race dancing together enrages some in power and “nothing sells newspapers as quickly as fear” brags an LA reporter (p. 32).

The papers’ sensationalized speculation questioned the true patriotism of non-whites and encouraged violence by sailors itching to get to war, creating a battle zone in Mexican-American neighborhoods where police blamed residents instead of their attackers.

Equal sacrifice demanded, unequal treatment before the law – how far have we come since 1942?
**kmm

Book info: Jazz Owls: a Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots / Margarita Engle; art by Rudy Gutierrez. Atheneum Books, 2018. [author site] [artist interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: During World War II, everyone works – from abuelas with their victory gardens to young women dancing with servicemen before their deployment – but all citizens are not equal, and many powerful people want to keep it that way.

‘English only’ at the cannery, or teen sisters Marisela and Lorena will lose their jobs, be trapped at home with Mama, not allowed to do their patriotic duty by dancing with sailors at the USO club.

Because Nico is serving overseas (somewhere), little brother Ray must accompany his ‘jazz owl’ sisters to and from the USO, pachuco strutting in his wide-shouldered zoot suit.

Afro-Cuban drummer Manolito brings hot Caribbean rhythms into jazz, dances with Marisela, only she keeps him from leaving this hate-filled place to the fake Cuban musicians.

Fame-hungry LA reporters twist facts, sensationalize truth, fan flames of suspicion that Mexican-Americans might be enemies instead of citizens, that jazz musicians are dangerous.

Told in poems by many voices over a year’s time, starting with the Sailor Riots against zoot suiters in 1942, Jazz Owls shows how the fear of Others splintered an American city which needed to stay united during wartime.

Far from shore on A Sea of Love, by Wilfrid Lupano & Gregory Panaccione (book review)

book cover of A Sea of Love by Wilfrid Lupano, illustrated by Gregory Panaccione. Published by Lion Forge | recommended on BooksYALove.com Snatched from his fishing waters by a factory-fishing-ship,
Adrift on the wide ocean in such a small boat,
the old man sees land ahead – but which land?

When he doesn’t return that night to their small coastal town, the fisherman’s wife goes searching for him, consulting the marine authorities, a soothsayer, and her own heart.

Join them on this wordless adventure/voyage/love story with scary and hilarious sidetrips!

Are you ready to travel to recover someone or something that you love?
**kmm

Book info: The Sea of Love / Wilfrid Lupano; illustrated by Gregory Panaccione. Lion Forge, 2018.  [artist site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A Breton fisherman’s daily routine goes awry when his small boat is entangled by a mega-trawler, sending him on a trans-oceanic adventure far beyond his familiar French coastal waters in this near-wordless graphic novel.

Paddling the life raft to their village, the first mate tells the fisherman’s distraught wife that the huge ship Goldfish has taken the old man away!

How will he survive stormy seas and angry seagulls?
Can she get word to the captain of Goldfish to help her husband?
If the vision in the pancake is correct, he is safe, but how to get there?

Love and devotion, Brittany’s traditional lacemaking, tropical island and revolution, cans of sardines (oh, how he loathes sardines…) – over 200 pages of mishaps, persistence, and waves for miles make this story a keeper.

Riding for justice, on dinosaurs! Dactyl Hill Squad, by Daniel Jose Older (book review)

book cover of Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older, published by Arthur A. Levine Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comCivil War with dinosaurs,
Free black orphans eluding kidnapping slavers,
Actors, mystery, adventure – and pterosaurs, too!

Visit the book website for the Rescue Run video game and ride dinos like Magdalys and Mapper did! Cool map of their New York City, too.

Which dino or ptero would you ride?
**kmm

Book info: Dactyl Hill Squad / Daniel Jose Older. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Civil War, New York City, dinosaurs everywhere – everyday life for Madgalys and friends at the Colored Orphans Asylum is shattered when riots break out and kidnappers attack!

The wonderful theater for black actors is torched, the orphanage is next, so they escape on a brachyosaur, heading for the free black neighborhood across the river, and the Afro-Cuban girl discovers that she can hear and understand the dino’s thoughts!

Riding pteros to gather information, each kid’s skills will be needed as they work together with Dactyl Hill residents to rescue kidnapped orphans from the corrupt judge who’ll send them into slavery.

Who’s this Mr. Reed noted in the orphanage register?
Can Magdalys really communicate with all types of dinos?
Will she see her soldier brother again?

First in an alternative history series, with youth fighting for justice, despicable villains opposing them, and dino battle beasts on both sides of the war between slave states and freedom.

On their Lion Island, young people of Cuba dream and rebel, by Margarita Engle (book review)

book cover of Lion Island, by Margarita Engle, published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comSongs for freedom,
words as power –
freedom from Spain, from slavery?

Did you know about Chinese immigrants who fled to Cuba, escaping racist attacks in America? They struggled for freedom from unfair indenture alongside enslaved Africans during the days when Cuba sought its independence from Spain – so many stories forgotten, lost, found, retold.

Look for this historical novel-in-verse at your local library or independent bookstore in hardcover or paperback.

Could you leave your homeland for safety, then leave again?
**kmm

Book info: Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words / Margarita Engle. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: At the confluence of Cuban, Chinese, and African cultures, poetic voices of three young people tell the stories of arrival and broken promises, despair and hope, love and the future during their island home’s early years as a nation.

To learn the proper Spanish that his Chinese mother never knew, Antonio’s African father sends him to school in La Habana city.

As he runs errands within the Chinese community for wealthy men displaced from California by anti-Asian prejudice in the post-Gold Rush years, the 12 year old meets twin sister and brother Fan and Wing.

Antonio hears stories of unfairness and change, falls in love with words, wonders if they have true power.

Fan runs away from the sugarcane fields, from forced marriage – to sing and write songs and sing true.

Wing remembers being forced from their California home, wants to help the rebels in Cuba’s mountains.

Months roll into years as the three young people help hide escaped slaves, read letters of protest sent to China and Madrid, long for power over their own lives.

Lyrically, poetically, alternating voices relate the struggles of indentured Chinese workers and enslaved African people fighting for their freedom in the 1870s as Cuba strives for independence from Spain.

Audiobooks with true soul & saddened hearts

Time to download this week’s soulful audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears – at no cost!

Remember that although these complete audiobooks are only available from Thursday through Wednesday (June 15-21, 2017), you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device

Bookmark the SYNC site now so you can download great audiobooks all summer long: http://www.audiobooksync.com/

CD cover of The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois| Read by Rodney Gardiner Published by Dreamscape Media | recommended on BooksYALove.comThe Souls of Black Folk (download here free from 15-21 June)
by W.E.B. Du Bois
Read by Rodney Gardiner
Published by Dreamscape Media

Following the Civil War and Emancipation, African-Americans were systematically denied their rights, as Du Bois chronicled in this 1903 work which rings true today, as progress has been uneven, at best.
 
The Red Umbrella (download here free from 15-21 June) CD cover of The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez | Read by Kyla Garcia Published by Ideal Audiobooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Read by Kyla Garcia
Published by Ideal Audiobooks<

Abruptly moved to prairieland Nebraska from tropical Cuba when Castro’s control grows tighter in 1963, teen Lucia must cope with new language and new worries – will she and her little brother ever see their parents again?

Displacement, change, and loss – can you relate?
**kmm