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Coming Soon

August 2023

October 2023

Spring 2024

Now Available


Spring 2024: WILD DREAMERS

Ana and her mother have been living out of their car ever since her militant father became one of the FBI’s most wanted. Leandro has struggled with debilitating anxiety since his family fled Cuba on a perilous raft. One moonlit night, in a wilderness park in California, Ana and Leandro meet.

Then they discover they are not alone: a huge mountain lion stalks through the trees, one of many wild animals whose habitat has been threatened by humans. Determined to make a difference, Ana and Leandro start a rewilding club at their school, working with scientists to build wildlife crossings that can help mountain lions find one another. If pumas can find their way to a better tomorrow, surely Ana and Leandro can too.

In this stirring young adult romance from award-winning author Margarita Engle, love and conservation intertwine as two teens fight to protect wildlife and heal from their troubled pasts.

More information available through Atheneum Books for Young Readers.


From folk art to photography, architecture to painting, sculpture to music, female Cuban artists have long gone unnoticed on a global scale.

This poetry collection highlights the lives and legacies of eight Cuban women who have redefined art in their communities.

More information available through Reycraft Books.


  • Junior Library Guild Selection, for both translations

August 2023: WATER DAY

A joyful picture book from acclaimed author Margarita Engle about a young girl and her community celebrating the arrival of the water man who visits weekly to distribute water to the village.

Water days are busy days,
grateful, laughing,
thirsty days.

A small village no longer has a water supply of its own, but one young girl and her neighbors get by with the help of the water man. When he comes to town, water flows like hope for the whole familia, and everyone rejoices.

More information available through Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Spanish edition of this book will also be released in August 2023.



This gorgeously romantic contemporary novel-in-verse from award-winning author Margarita Engle tells the inspiring love story of two teens fighting for climate action and human rights.

Winged beings are meant to be free. And so are artists, but the Cuban government has criminalized any art that doesn’t meet their approval. Soleida and her parents protest this injustice with their secret sculpture garden of chained birds. Then a hurricane exposes the illegal art, and her parents are arrested.

Soleida escapes to Central America alone, joining the thousands of Cuban refugees stranded in Costa Rica while seeking asylum elsewhere. There she meets Dariel, a Cuban American boy whose enigmatic music enchants birds and animals—and Soleida.

Together they work to protect the environment and bring attention to the imprisoned artists in Cuba. Soon they discover that love isn’t about falling—it’s about soaring together to new heights. But wings can be fragile, and Soleida and Dariel come from different worlds. They are fighting for a better future—and the chance to be together.

More information available through Atheneum Books for Young Readers in English and Spanish Edition.



A powerful novel in verse from Newbery and Pura Belpré Award-winning author Margarita Engle about the friendship between a young girl and the poet Gabriela Mistral that leads to healing and hope for both of them.

Cuban-born eleven-year-old Oriol lives in Santa Barbara, California, where she struggles to belong. But most of the time that's okay, because she enjoys helping her parents care for the many injured animals at their veterinary clinic.

Then Gabriela Mistral, the first Latin American winner of a Nobel Prize in Literature, moves to town, and aspiring writer Oriol finds herself opening up. As she begins to create a world of words for herself, Oriol learns it will take courage to stay true to herself and do what she thinks is right--attempting to rescue a baby elephant in need--even if it means keeping secrets from those she loves.

More information available through Viking Books for Young Readers.


  • Rhode Island 2024 Children's Book Award Nominee
  • Bank Street 2023 Best Children's Books
  • New York Times Best Children’s Books of 2022
  • Kirkus Best Middle Grade Books 2022
  • School Library Journal-26 MG Books for Latinx Heritage Month 2022
  • Nerdies Award, 2022
  • Cybils Award Finalist
  • School Library Journal Mock Newbery Suggestions
  • Kirkus Starred Review
  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • New York Times review
  • NPR Morning Edition interview
  • Publishers Weekly starred review
  • Amazon Editor’s Choice Best Books (June 2022)

Courage in a Time of Tyranny

An inspiring coming-of-age story from award-winning author Margarita Engle about a girl falling in love for the first time while finding the courage to protest for women’s right to vote in 1920s Cuba.

Rima loves to ride horses alongside her abuela and Las Mambisas, the fierce women veterans who fought during Cuba’s wars for independence. Feminists from many backgrounds have gathered in voting clubs to demand suffrage and equality for women, but not everybody wants equality for all—especially not for someone like Rima. In 1920s Cuba, illegitimate children like her are bullied and shunned.

Rima dreams of a day when she is free from fear and shame, the way she feels when she’s riding with Las Mambisas. As she seeks her way, Rima forges unexpected friendships with others who long for freedom, especially a handsome young artist named Maceo. Through turbulent times, hope soars, and with it…love.

More information available through Simon & Schuster in English and Spanish edition.


  • Bank Street 2023 Best Children's Books
  • American Library Association Rise Feminist Book Project Honoree
  • CL/R SIG Notable Books for a Global Society, 2023
  • Jane Addams Book Award Finalist
  • School Library Journal-12 YA Novels for Latinx Heritage Month 2022
  • Junior Library Guild Selection
  • School Library Journal's Seven Not-to-Miss 2022 YA Books with Latinx Protagonists


A lyrical and unifying picture book that celebrates the immigrant experience in America from Newbery Honoree Margarita Engle and award-winning illustrator Raúl Colón.

Discover the myriad contributions that all immigrants have made as they come to join family or start their own lives together in a new country they call home. Coming with their hopes, dreams, and determination, generations of immigrants have made the fabric of this country diverse, vivid, and welcoming.

This vibrant and timely celebration demonstrates the thousands of immigrants who built America and the importance of having acceptance and light for everyone.

More information available through Simon & Schuster in English and Spanish edition.


  • International Latino Book Awards Honorable Mention
  • Fresno Art Museum illustration exhibit
  • Publishers Weekly Notable Book
  • ALA Notable Children's Books, 2022
  • CCBC Choices, 2022
  • Bank Street Best Children’s Books 2022
  • California Department of Education Recommended Reading List


From Pura Belpré Award–winning author Margarita Engle comes a lively, rhythmic picture book about a little girl visiting her grandfather who is a pregonero—a singing street vendor in Cuba—and helping him sell his frutas.

When we visit mi abuelo, I help him sell
frutas, singing the names of each fruit
as we walk, our footsteps like drumbeats,
our hands like maracas, shaking…

The little girl loves visiting her grandfather in Cuba and singing his special songs to sell all kinds of fruit: mango, limón, naranja, piña, and more! Even when they’re apart, grandfather and granddaughter can share rhymes between their countries like un abrazo—a hug—made of words carried on letters that soar across the distance like songbirds.

More information available through Atheneum Books for Young Readers in English and in Spanish.


Love in a Time of Hunger

The people of Cuba are living in el período especial en tiempos de paz—the special period in times of peace. That’s what the government insists that this era must be called, but the reality behind these words is starvation.
Liana is struggling to find enough to eat. Yet hunger has also made her brave: she finds the courage to skip a summer of so-called volunteer farm labor, even though she risks government retribution. Nearby, a quiet, handsome boy named Amado also refuses to comply, so he wanders alone, trying to discover rare sources of food. A chance encounter with an enigmatic dog brings Liana and Amado together. United in hope and hunger, they soon discover that their feelings for each other run deep. Love can feed their souls and hearts—but is it enough to withstand el período especial?

Acclaimed author Margarita Engle tells a painful, poignant story of love in a time of hunger inspired by her own family’s struggles during a dark period in Cuba’s history.

More information available through Atheneum Books for Young Readers in English and Spanish edition.


Rubén Darío, Poetry Hero

As a little boy, Rubén Darío loved to listen to his great uncle, a man who told tall tales in a booming, larger-than-life voice. Rubén quickly learned the magic of storytelling, and discovered the rapture and beauty of verse.

A restless and romantic soul, Rubén traveled across Central and South America seeking adventure and connection. As he discovered new places and new loves, he wrote poems to express his wild storm of feelings. But the traditional forms felt too restrictive. He began to improvise his own poetic forms so he could capture the entire world in his words. At the age of twenty-one, he published his first book Azul, which heralded a vibrant new literary movement called Modernismo that blended poetry and prose into something magical.

From acclaimed author Margarita Engle comes a gorgeous new novel in verse about Rubén Darío, the Nicaraguan poet and folk hero who initiated the literary movement of Modernismo.

More information available through Atheneum Books for Young Readers in English and Spanish


A Hispanic History of the United States Told in Poems

From Juana Briones and Juan Ponce de León, to eighteenth century slaves and modern-day sixth graders, the many and varied people depicted in this moving narrative speak to the experiences and contributions of Latinos throughout the history of the United States, from the earliest known stories up to present day. It's a portrait of a great, enormously varied, and enduring heritage. A compelling treatment of an important topic.

This is a middle grade verse history of Latinos in the United States, told through many voices, and featuring illustrations by Beatriz Gutierrez Hernandez.

More information available through Holt Books for Young Readers


How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln

As a little girl, Teresa Carreño loved to let her hands dance across the beautiful keys of the piano. If she felt sad, music cheered her up, and when she was happy, the piano helped her share that joy. Soon she was writing her own songs and performing in grand cathedrals. Then a revolution in Venezuela forced her family to flee to the United States. Teresa felt lonely in this unfamiliar place, where few of the people she met spoke Spanish. Worst of all, there was fighting in her new home, too—the Civil War.

Still, Teresa kept playing, and soon she grew famous as the talented Piano Girl who could play anything from a folk song to a sonata. So famous, in fact, that President Abraham Lincoln wanted her to play at the White House! Yet with the country torn apart by war, could Teresa’s music bring comfort to those who needed it most?

More information available through Atheneum Books for Young Readers


  • National Women's History Museum Brave Girls presentation on Feb. 22 for President's Day (virtual).
  • NCTE Nonfiction picture book recommendations for Hispanic Heritage Month 2022
  • Téjas Star Reading List 2022 for Manos que bailan
  • Los Angeles Public Library's Lo mejor del 2021 list for Manos que bailan: Co´mo Teresa Carren~o toco´ el piano para el Presidente Lincoln
  • Target Stores' Hispanic Heritage Month Featured Books 2021
  • Scholastic Book Club
  • 2021 Texas Topaz Nonfiction Reading List
  • Beehive Award Nominee 2022, Children's Literature Association of Utah
  • The Brainstorm Plus' Top 10 Picture Book Biographies
  • International Latino Book Award's children non-fiction picture book, 2nd place
  • Bank Street's 2020 Best Children's Books of the Year
  • Nevada Young Readers Award nomination
  • Florida SSYRA List
  • Scranton Memorial Library Kids Nonfiction Pick
  • Keystone to Reading Award List
  • Sunshine State Award Reading List
  • Nevada Young Readers Award Nominee
  • School Library Journal Latinx Luminaries, Picture Book Biographies Featuring Latinx Superstars
  • Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book Biography 2019
  • Winner of the 2020 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award
  • NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books, 2020
  • ALSC Notable Books, 2020
  • Best Multicultural Children’s Books 2019, Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature
  • Nerdy Award Winner, Nonfiction, 2019
  • Chicago Public Library 2019 Best of the Best
  • New York Public Library Best Books of 2019
  • Mighty Girl Best Books of the Year, 2019
  • Nonfiction Detectives Best of 2019
  • Latina Book Club Books of the Year, 2019
  • SLJ Fuse8 2019 Unique Biographies

A Companion Memoir to Enchanted Air

Margarita Engle’s childhood straddled two worlds: the lush, welcoming island of Cuba and the lonely, dream-soaked reality of Los Angeles. But the revolution has transformed Cuba into a mystery of impossibility, no longer reachable in real life. Margarita longs to travel the world, yet before she can become independent, she’ll have to start high school.

Then the shock waves of war reach America, rippling Margarita’s plans in their wake. Cast into uncertainty, she must grapple with the philosophies of peace, civil rights, freedom of expression, and environmental protection. Despite overwhelming circumstances, she finds solace and empowerment through her education. Amid the challenges of adolescence and a world steeped in conflict, Margarita finds hope beyond the struggle, and love in the most unexpected of places.

More information available through Atheneum Books for Young Readers


  • Los Angeles Public Library Lo mejor de 2020
  • Bank Street's 2020 Best Children's Books of the Year
  • International Latino Book Award's honorable mention
  • Horn Book 2019 Summer Reading Selection
  • International Literacy Association CLR-SIG List
  • Three Inspiring Books For Young Readers, Washington Post
  • Golden Leaves Award, Cal Poly, Pomona
  • Latina Book Club Books of the Year, 2019
  • Nerdy Book Club Award Winner, Poetry and Verse Novels, 2019
  • NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books, 2020
  • CCCB Choices
  • New York Public Library Best Books of 2019
  • ALSC Notable Children’s Books Midwinter Discussion List

A Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots

From the Young People’s Poet Laureate Margarita Engle comes a searing novel in verse about the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943.

Thousands of young Navy sailors are pouring into Los Angeles on their way to the front lines of World War II. They are teenagers, scared, longing to feel alive before they have to face the horrors of battle. Hot jazz music spiced with cool salsa rhythms calls them to dance with the local Mexican American girls, who jitterbug all night before working all day in the canneries. Proud to do their part for the war effort, these Jazz Owl girls are happy to dance with the sailors—until the blazing summer night when racial violence leads to murder.

Suddenly the young white sailors are attacking these girls’ brothers and boyfriends. The cool, loose zoot suits they wear are supposedly the reason for the violence—when in reality these boys are viciously beaten and arrested simply because of the color of their skin.

More information available through Atheneum Books for Young Readers


How Aida de Acosta Learned to Soar

In this beautiful picture book filled with soaring words and buoyant illustrations, award-winners Margarita Engle and Sara Palacios tell the inspiring true story of Aída de Acosta, the first woman to fly a motorized aircraft.

On a lively street in the lovely city of Paris, a girl named Aída glanced up and was dazzled by the sight of an airship. Oh, how she wished she could soar through the sky like that! The inventor of the airship, Alberto, invited Aída to ride with him, but she didn’t want to be a passenger. She wanted to be the pilot.

Aída was just a teenager, and no woman or girl had ever flown before. She didn’t let that stop her, though. All she needed was courage and a chance to try.

More information available through Atheneum Books for Young Readers in English and in Spanish.


Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quixote

Story of Miguel de Cervantes as he grew up and developed the idea for Don Quixote.

This fictionalized first-person biography in verse of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra follows the early years of the child who grows up to pen Don Quixote, the first modern novel. Miguel, inspired by storytellers and wandering actors who perform during festivals, looks to his own imagination for an escape from his family’s troubles and finds comfort in his colorful daydreams.

More information available through Peachtree Publishers



Story of a Cuban-American boy who visits his family’s village in Cuba for the first time—and meets a sister he didn’t know he had.

Edver isn’t happy about being shipped off to Cuba to visit the father he barely knows. The island is a place that no one in Miami ever mentions without a sigh, but travel laws have suddenly changed, and now it’s a lot easier for divided families to be reunited. Technology in Cuba hasn’t caught up with the times, though, and Edver is expecting a long, boring summer.

He was NOT expecting to meet a sister he didn’t know he had. Luza is a year older and excited to see her little brother, until she realizes what a spoiled American he is. Looking for something—anything—they might have in common, the siblings sneak onto the Internet, despite it being forbidden in Cuba, and make up a fake butterfly. Maybe now their cryptozoologist mother will come to visit. But their message is intercepted by a dangerous poacher, and suddenly much more than their family is at stake. Edver and Luza have to find a way to overcome their differences to save the Cuban jungle that they both have grown to love.

Order English language edition here.
-- Errata on page 146, CITES should be shown as having passed in 1973, not 1873.

Order Spanish language edition here



So we purr, cara cara, and we glide, taka taka, and we zoom, zoom, ZOOM!

A family drives into the city of Havana to celebrate a cousin's first birthday. Before their journey, the boy helps his papa tune up their old car, Cara Cara, which has been in their family for many years. They drive along the sea wall, along the coast, past other colorful old cars. The sounds of the city are rich—the putt putts and honks and bumpety bumps of other cars chorus through the streets. A rich celebration of the culture of the Cuban people, their resourcefulness and innovative spirit, and their joy.

Book trailer: Link from All the Wonder

Order book here.


  • Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly
  • Starred reviews in Booklist
  • Starred reviews in Kirkus
  • Starred reviews in School Library Journal
  • Parents Magazine's Celebrating Diversity Through Book list
  • ALSC 2018 Notable Children's Books Nominee
  • Américas Award Honor Book
  • Mr. Brian's Picture Book Picks' My Favorite 52 Fiction Picture Books of the Decade (2010-2019)
  • Banks Street Best Books 2018, Outstanding Merit Star
  • CCBC Choices 2018
  • 2018 International Latino Book Awards, 1st Prize in the Most Inspiring Picture Book category
  • Distinguished Books, Association of Children’s Literature of Northern California
  • 2018-2019 Keystone to Reading Book Award Finalist
  • 3 Fantastic Picture Books About Appreciating What You Have, from the ReadLearnRepeat blog
  • 2017 Cybils Award Nominee
  • Booklist's Top 10 Diverse Picture Book
  • 2018 ALSC Notable Children's Books
  • Charlotte Zolotow Awards Highly Recommended Title from CCBC
  • Kirkus Best Children’s Picture Books of 2017
  • CCBC Best Multicultural Children’s Books of 2017
  • Nerdy Book Club Award, fiction picture books
  • Evanston Public Library 101 Great Books for Kids
  • Denver Public Library Best and Brightest Books of 2017
  • Huffington Post Best Books of 2017, Honorable Mention, Picture books
  • Best Multiracial Picture Books, Honorable Mention, Bookstagram Choice Awards
  • NEPR- Grace Lin’s list of Good Books for Opening Young Minds
  • Horn Book Calling Caldecott list
  • 100 Scopenotes Caldecott Honor Prediction
  • The Best of the Best, readerbuzz
  • SLJ Fuse 8 Picture Book list
  • Favorite Picture Books of 2017,
  • National Education Association Calendar
  • Silver Medal for Raúl Colón, Original Art Exhibit, Society of Illustrators
  • NEA Read Across America Calendar, September
  • Best New Picture Books from
  • Featured on Here Wee Read's Ultimate 2017 Diverse Summer Reading List.

Poems about Amazing Hispanics

Musician, botanist, baseball player, pilot—the Latinos featured in this collection come from many different countries and from many different backgrounds. Celebrate their accomplishments and their contributions to a collective history and a community that continues to evolve and thrive today!

Biographical poems include: Aida de Acosta, Arnold Rojas, Baruj Benacerraf, César Chávez, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Félix Varela, George Meléndez, José Martí, Juan de Miralles, Juana Briones, Julia de Burgos, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Paulina Pedroso, Pura Belpré, Roberto Clemente, Tito Puente, Ynes Mexia, Tomás Rivera.

* Order English language edition book here
* Order Spanish language edition book here

* Order the bilingual board book edition here


MORNING STAR HORSE (El Caballo Lucero)

“When Mamacita chose to call me Estrellita, / it was her way of imagining a little bit / of starlight, deep down in that cavern / where only rare streaks of day or night / could reach—now, Lucero and I will be / Morning Star and Little Star, / a lit-from-within racing team!”

A young girl stricken with rickets and her mother face the aftermath of the Spanish-American War, the challenges of a new century and innovative teachers. Dreams realized and dreams crushed exploring the freedoms only a magical horse can offer.

Award winning author Margarita Engle brings a tale of history mixed with a touch of fantasy.

* Order English edition here
* Order Spanish edition here
* Order bilingual English/Spanish edition here.


  • Teaching for Change Review
  • Goodreads Middle Grade/YA Speculative Fiction list
    Cuba's Warrior of Words (Isla de Leones)

    In a haunting yet hopeful novel in verse, award-winning author Margarita Engle tells the story of Antonio Chuffat, a young man of African, Chinese, and Cuban descent who became a champion of civil rights.

    Asia, Africa, Europe—Antonio Chuffat’s ancestors clashed and blended on the beautiful island of Cuba. Yet for most Cubans in the nineteenth century, life is anything but beautiful. The country is fighting for freedom from Spain. Enslaved Africans and nearly-enslaved Chinese indentured servants are forced to work long, backbreaking hours in the fields.

    So Antonio feels lucky to have found a good job as a messenger, where his richly blended cultural background is an asset. Through his work he meets Wing, a young Chinese fruit seller who barely escaped the anti-Asian riots in San Francisco, and his sister Fan, a talented singer. With injustice all around them, the three friends are determined that violence will not be the only way to gain liberty.

    Order English language edition here

    Order Spanish language edition here

    Click here for curriculum guide of Lion Island


    Two Cultures, Two Wings

    This book is a poetic memoir of Margarita's childhood growing up as a child of two cultures, United States and Cuba, during the Cold War.

    Margarita is a girl from two worlds. Her heart lies in Cuba, her mother’s tropical island country, a place so lush with vibrant life that it seems like a fairy tale kingdom. But most of the time she lives in Los Angeles, lonely in the noisy city and dreaming of the summers when she can take a plane through the enchanted air to her beloved island. Words and images are her constant companions, friendly and comforting when the children at school are not.

    Read reviews here

    Order book here


    • 2016 Pura Belpré Award for text
    • 2018-2019 Tejas Star Reading List
    • William Allen White Award Master List
    • Voice in Verse: Four Outstanding Mentor Texts, NCTE
    • 2018 Book Recommendations: Poetry, NCTE
    • 30 Mg/YA Verse Novels for National Poetry Month,
    • 2018 International Latino Book Awards, 1st Prize in the Best Young Adult Translation Award (translation by Alexis Romay)
    • NCTE National Poetry Month book recommendation
    • 30 MG/YA Verse Novels for National Poetry Month for Engaging Reluctant Readers,
    • 25 of the Best Poetry Books for Teens,
    • CCBC Choices 2016
    • William Allen White Kansas Award Master List
    • 2016 Notable Verse Novel, NCTE
    •'s 10 Great Works of YA Nonfiction
    •'s 25 of the Best Poetry Books for Teens
    • YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist
    • SCBWI Golden Kite Award winner in non-fiction
    • Latino Holiday Gift Guide Great Latino Books for Kids
    • International Latino Book Award, Second Place, Best Nonfiction Young Adult Book
    • 25 Books About the Immigrant Experience (
    • Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award
    • Walter Award Honor
    • ALA Notable Children's Books
    • Arnold Adoff Teen Poetry Award
    • Américas Award Commended Book
    • Skipping Stones Honor Award
    • 2016 CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People
    • International Latino Book Award Finalist, Best YA Nonfiction Book
    • Ten Classic (and Destined to Become Classic) Books to Read Aloud With Tweens and Teens, Brainchild Magazine
    • 9 YA Nonfiction Books That Will Change the Way You Look at the World (
    • Bank Street 2015 Best Books of the Year
    • New York Times Sunday Book Review (11/08/2015)
    • 2015 Eureka! Gold Award by the California Reading Association
    • School Library Journal Top 10 Latino Books for 2015
    • 2015 Cybils Award Nominee
    • Starred review from Shelf Awareness.
    • Vamos a Leer Featured Title
    • Teaching for Change Recommended Book
    • Starred review from Booklist
    • Junior Library Guild Fall 2015 selection
    • Starred review from Kirkus Book Review
    • Starred review from School Library Journal
    • Los Angeles Times Summer Reading List


    Louis Fuertes, Bird Artist

    Louis loves to watch birds. He takes care of injured birds and studies how they look and how they move. His father wants him to become an engineer, but Louis dreams of being a bird artist. To achieve this dream, he must practice, practice, practice. He learns from the art of John James Audubon. But as Louis grows up, he begins to draw and paint living, flying birds in their natural habitats.

    Released in April 2015, the story is inspired by the life of Louis Fuertes and the deep sense of wonder that he felt when he painted the sky.

    Download The Sky Painter activity kit

    Book trailer for The Sky Painter by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Aliona Bereghici

    Order book here


    • Gathering Books' Social and Emotional Learning list
    • Social Justice Books' Environment Books
    • 2016 Bank Street Best Books of the Year
    • International Latino Book Awards Finalist, Best Educational Children’s Picture Book
    • International Latino Book Award, Best Educational Children’s Picture Book
    • 2015 Cybils Award Nominee
    • Selected as one of Teaching For Change's recommended book

    How One Girl's Courage Changed Music

    Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.

    Released in March 2015, this story is inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba's traditional taboo against female drummers.

    Read reviews here

    Order book here


    • NYPL 125 Books We Love For Kids
    • National Geographic Around the World in 20 Books for Kids
    • CNN Common Sense Media List o Diverse Books
    • Gathering Books' Social and Emotional Learning list
    • Latinx Heritage Month Reading List, Conscious Kid Library, Brooklyn Children's Museum
    • This Picture Book Life's 20 Terrific and True Picture Books
    • 2017 Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in children’s video by producer Ryan Swenar of Dreamscape Media
    • CCBC Choices 2016
    • Charlotte Zolotow Award for best picture book written in 2015
    • 2016 Pura Belpré Award for illustration (Rafael Lopez)
    • ALA Notable Children's Book
    • APALA Award Honor
    • International Latino Book Award, Most Inspirational Children’s Picture Book
    • NYPL list of Yo Soy Latina Recommended Reads
    • Book Riot's List of 100 Must-Read Picture Books For Kids and Adults
    • Washington Post 19 Books to Help Children Find Hope and Strength in Stressful Times
    • A Mighty Girl 25 Books to Inspire Your Mighty Girl in 2017
    • 15 Fierce Books About Fearless Females
    • 2016 Book Harvest Mirrors and Windows Project
    • Empowering Books for Girl (
    • 14 Books To Inspire Kids to Follow Their Dreams (
    • We're the People 2016 Summer Reading List
    • Finalist, California Book Awards
    • 2016 Bank Street Best Books of the Year
    • Building STEAM with Día 2016 Booklist
    • Essence 17 Afro-Latino Children's Books to Read to Your Kids
    • Timbuktu's 30 Best Children's Books for Girls of all Time
    • 2016 CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People
    • CBC/ALSC Building a Home Library (
    • International Latino Book Award Finalist, Most Inspirational Children’s Picture Book
    • The Ultimate Diverse Summer Reading List for Kids (
    • Américas Award Commended Book
    • Summer 2016 Reading List
    • 26 Multicultural Picture Book Biographies About Inspiring Women and Girls (
    • Amelia Bloomer Top 10
    • Notable Books for a Global Society, International Literacy Association
    • Best Multicultural Books of 2015, Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature
    • School Library Journal Top 10 Latino Books for 2015
    • School Library Journal Best Books of 2015
    • Kirkus Best Informational Picture Books of 2015
    • Georgia Book Award Nominee, 2016-2017
    • Children’s Literacy Initiative Diverse Book Recommendation
    • Huffington Post Best Books of 2015, Most Inspiring Picture Book
    • San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of 2015
    • Top 15 Mighty Girl Books of 2015
    • 100 magnificent Children’s Books of 2015 – SLJ Fuse#8
    • Smithsonian Book Dragon Books for the Multi-Culti Reader
    • Brown Bookshelf Favorite Books of 2015
    • 10 Books That Empower Kids to Stand Up and Speak Brightly
    • 2015 Cybils Award Nominee
    • Anansesem Picture Book Month Recommendation
    • Best Picture Books of 2015 selection from
    • California Kids Reviewers Choice
    • Scholastic's Instructor magazine annual summer reading list for students
    • Featured on the Washington Post education blog
    • ALSC Notables Nominee
    • Starred review from Kirkus Book Review
    • Children's Book Council Hot Off the Press List for March 2015
    • Cooperative Children's Book Center's Recomended Book of the Week
    • We Need Diverse Books March 2015 Educational kit
    • Starred review on the January 2015 issue of School Library Journal

    Voices from the Panama Canal

    One hundred years ago, the world celebrated the opening of the Panama Canal, which connected the world’s two largest oceans and signaled America’s emergence as a global superpower. It was a miracle, this path of water where a mountain had stood—and creating a miracle is no easy thing. Thousands lost their lives, and those who survived worked under the harshest conditions for only a few silver coins a day.

    From the young "silver people" whose back-breaking labor built the Canal to the denizens of the endangered rainforest itself, this is the story of one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, as only Newbery Honor-winning author Margarita Engle could tell it.

    This book features Raúl Colón's spectacular cover art and published in the U.S by Harcourt, in Australia and New Zealand by University Press.

    Read reviews here


    Cuba's Greatest Abolitionist

    I find it so easy to forget / that I’m just a girl who is expected / to live / without thoughts.

    Opposing slavery in Cuba in the nineteenth century was dangerous. The most daring abolitionists were poets who veiled their work in metaphor. Of these, the boldest was Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, nicknamed Tula.

    In passionate, accessible verses of her own, Engle evokes the voice of this book-loving feminist and abolitionist who bravely resisted an arranged marriage at the age of fourteen, and was ultimately courageous enough to fight against injustice. Historical notes, excerpts, and source notes round out this exceptional tribute.

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    Fefa struggles with words. She has word blindness, or dyslexia, and the doctor says she will never read or write. Every time she tries, the letters jumble and spill off the page, leaping and hopping away like bullfrogs. How will she ever understand them?

    But her mother has an idea. She gives Fefa a blank book filled with clean white pages. "Think of it as a garden," she says. Soon Fefa starts to sprinkle words across the pages of her wild book. She lets her words sprout like seedlings, shaky at first, then growing stronger and surer with each new day. And when her family is threatened, it is what Fefa has learned from her wild book that saves them.

    The Wild Book is a novel in verse inspired by stories told by Margarita's grandmother about her childhood. The gorgeous cover is illustrated by talented multiple Pura Belpré winning illustrator, Yuyi Morales.

    Follow this link to hear Margarita sharing some of the backstory for The Wild Book.

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    The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck

    Quebrado has been traded from pirate ship to ship in the Caribbean Sea for as long as he can remember. The sailors he toils under call him el quebrado—half islander, half outsider, a broken one. Now the pirate captain Bernardino de Talavera uses Quebrado as a translator to help navigate the worlds and words between his mother’s Taíno Indian language and his father’s Spanish.

    But when a hurricane sinks the ship and most of its crew, it is Quebrado who escapes to safety. He learns how to live on land again, among people who treat him well. And it is he who must decide the fate of his former captors.

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    • 2012 Pura Belpré Author Honor
    • 2012 Américas Award Winner
    • ALSC 2012 Notable Children's Book for older readers
    • ALA Best Books for Young Adults nominee
    • Poetry for Children Blog's Top 20 Most Distinctive Books of Poetry 2011
    • 2012 White Ravens List
    • 2012 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People

    The Butterflies of Maria Merian

    In the Middle Ages, people believed that insects were evil, born from mud in a process called spontaneous generation. Maria Merian was only a child, but she disagreed. She watched carefully as caterpillars spun themselves cocoons, which opened to reveal summer birds, or butterflies and moths. Maria studied the whole life cycle of the summer birds, and documented what she learned in vibrant paintings.

    This is the story of one young girl who took the time to observe and learn, and in so doing disproved a theory that went all the way back to ancient Greece.

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    A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba

    The freedom to roam is something that women and girls in Cuba do not have. Yet when Fredrika Bremer visits from Sweden in 1851 to learn about the people of this magical island, she is accompanied by Cecilia, a young slave who longs for her lost home in Africa. Soon Elena, the wealthy daughter of the house, sneaks out to join them. As the three women explore the lush countryside, they form a bond that breaks the barriers of language and culture.

    In this quietly powerful new book, award-winning poet Margarita Engle paints a portrait of early women’s rights pioneer Fredrika Bremer and the journey to Cuba that transformed her life.

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    • Pura Belpré Honor
    • 2017 Social Justice Book List of the National Network State Teachers of the Year
    • Jane Addams Award Finalist
    • California Book Award Finalist
    • 33 Latino Middle Grade Chapter Books You Should Know (
    • International Reading Association Notable Book for a Global Society
    • Américas Award Honor
    • NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Book
    • Amelia Bloomer Book
    • TAYSHAS Choice
    • Junior Library Guild Selection
    • ALSC 2011 Notable Children's Book
    • Latinas for Latino Lit 2014 Summer Reading Program

    Holocaust Refugees in Cuba

    Daniel has escaped Nazi Germany with nothing but a desperate dream that he might one day find his parents again. But that golden land called New York has turned away his ship full of refugees, and Daniel finds himself in Cuba.

    As the tropical island begins to work its magic on him, the young refugee befriends a local girl with some painful secrets of her own. Yet even in Cuba, the Nazi darkness is never far away . . .

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    • Sydney Taylor Award
    • Paterson Prize
    • Américas Award
    • 30 MG/YA Verse Novels for National Poetry Month Engaging Reluctant Readers, from
    • 33 Latino Middle Grade Chapter Books You Should Know (
    • Jane Addams Award Commendation
    • New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
    • ALA Best Books for Young Adults Nominee
    • California Teachers Association Recommended Book

    Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom

    Who could have guessed that after all these years,
    the boy I called Lieutenant Death
    when we were both children
    would still be out here, in the forest,
    chasing me, now,
    hunting me, haunting me . . .

    It is 1896. Cuba has fought three wars for independence and still is not free. People have been rounded up in concentration camps with too little food and too much illness.
    Rosa is a nurse, but with a price on her head for helping the rebels, she dares not go to the camps. Instead, she turns hidden caves into hospitals for those who know how to find her. Black, white, Cuban, Spanish—Rosa does her best for everyone. Yet who can heal a country so torn apart by war?

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    This book is also available in bilingual English and Spanish translation.


    • Newbery Honor
    • Pura Belpré Award
    • Américas Award
    • Jane Addams Award
    • Claudia Lewis Poetry Award
    • Lee Bennett Hopkins Honor
    • ALA Best Books for Young Adults
    • ALA Notable Book
    • NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Book
    • Amelia Bloomer Book
    • Booklist Editor’s Choice
    • Kansas State Reading Circle
    • Michigan Great Lakes Great Books Award Master List
    • Junior Library Guild Selection
    • Finalist - Once Upon a Word Children's Book Award, Museum of Tolerance, Simon Wiesenthal Library
    • Bank Street College of Education Selection List of Reading Aloud With Children Twelve and Older
    • ALSC Notable Books
    • Great Social Studies Poetry Books list, from CLA Master Class: Poetry Across the Curriculum (Social Studies and Poetry)
    • Book Riot 100 Must-Read Latin American Book
    • Artists Without Walls Performance, New York

    A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano

    A lyrical biography of a Cuban slave who escaped to become a celebrated poet.

    Born into the household of a wealthy slave owner in Cuba in 1797, Juan Francisco Manzano spent his early years by the side of a woman who made him call her Mama, even though he had a mama of his own. Denied an education, young Juan still showed an exceptional talent for poetry. His verses reflect the beauty of his world, but they also expose its hideous cruelty.

    Powerful, haunting poems and breathtaking illustrations create a portrait of a life in which even the pain of slavery could not extinguish the capacity for hope.

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    • Pura Belpré Medal
    • Américas Award
    • International Reading Association Children’s Book Award
    • International Reading Association Teachers’ Choice
    • ALA Best Books for Young Adults
    • NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts
    • Bank Street College of Education Best Books of the Year
    • New York Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age
    • Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon Book
    • Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choice
    • Booklist Editor’s Choice
    • Arizona Grand Canyon Young Readers Master List
    • CCBC Global Reading List
    • Junior Library Guild Selection
    • Bank Street College of Education Selection List of Reading Aloud With Children Twelve and Older
    •'s 25 of the Best Poetry Books for Teens
    • 25 of the Best Poetry Books for Teens, from