- Age Range: 8 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 1150 (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 48 pages
- Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (March 14, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780805098761
- ISBN-13: 978-0805098761
- ASIN: 0805098763
- Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.4 x 11.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics Hardcover – March 14, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Engle highlights 18 Latinxs from a range of ethnic backgrounds and countries of origin, all of whom lived in what is now the United States or its territories. Each person made a positive impact on U.S. history, and although some are not well-known, their contributions warrant an important place in the U.S. collective cultural knowledge. Engle's masterly first-person poems capture the essence of each individual, while notes about each figure at the end provide context to spur curiosity and further research. Additionally, the final celebratory poem features an additional 22 contemporary Latinxs in a crescendo to the present, ending with applause: "¡Bravo!" The pairing of these biographical poems with López's distinctive artwork leaves a lasting visual impression, as the subjects, surrounded by images representing their vocations, look readers straight in the eye or are totally absorbed in their work. These full-page illustrations serve as bold counterparts to the poems. VERDICT Although lacking specific source notes for student readers and writers, this book is a welcome addition to schools and libraries, as it expands the canon of historically significant individuals in the United States in such a lyrical and aesthetically pleasing manner.—Ruth Quiroa, National Louis University, Chicago, IL
"Lopez's bright portraits of notable Hispanics have the large scale and graphic discipline of poster art, while Engle manages to compress the sweep of a biography into a sharp, compact free-verse poem about each life, from childhood on. Some are famous [...] All faced challenges [...] and made lasting contributions." ―New York Times Book Review on Bravo!
"this book is a welcome addition to schools and libraries, as it expands the canon of historically significant individuals in the United States in such a lyrical and aesthetically pleasing manner." ―School Library Journal, starred review, on Bravo!
"This book features the lives of a variety of Latinos who faced life's challenges with aplomb and in their own ways. . . each person is stunningly portrayed in López's strong and vibrant style; opposite is a first-person biographical poem that provides a glimpse into its subject's life." ―Kirkus Reviews on Bravo!
"López (who illustrated Engle’s Drum Dream Girl) creates bold, dramatic portraits of the subjects, which include José Martí, Pura Belpré, Tito Puente, and César Chávez. Capsule biographies are a welcome supplement to the poems" ―Publishers Weekly on Bravo!
The Poet Slave of Cuba:
"An absolutely lovely book . . . that should be read by young and old, black and white, Anglo and Latino." ―School Library Journal, starred review
"Readers will hear the stories―and never forget them." ―Booklist, starred review
"The moving poetry and finely crafted story will draw readers in and leave them in tears and in awe." ―The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review
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The profiles are arranged chronologically, and each featured individual receives a double-page treatment consisting of a brief poem and a portrait illustration. The first spot belongs to Juan de Miralles (1713-1780), a Cuban supporter of the American Revolution, whose intervention helped save George Washington’s troops from scurvy. The final selection is Tomás Rivera (1935-1984), an influential teacher, poet, and University of California chancellor, who was also one of Margarita Engle’s creative-writing professors.
As with her novels in verse, Engle presents the stories of the characters through first-person-voiced poems that draw attention not only to that individual’s contributions to society, but also to the passions that drove them to action.
As mentioned earlier, most of these historical figures are not widely recognized. For example, how many readers in the U.S. are familiar with poet Julia de Burgos (1914-1953), who advocated for her native Puerto Rico’s independence? In “My River of Dreams,” we learn of her poverty-stricken childhood and the natural world that she loved, as well as the heart of her advocacy:
I struggled to become a teacher
and a poet, so I could use words
to fight for equal rights for women,
and work toward meeting
the needs of poor children,
and speak of independence
for Puerto Rico.
Another selection, “Wild Exploration,” profiles Ynés Mexia (1870-1938), highlighting Mexía’s botanical studies in Mexico and South America, but also bringing out her bicultural origins, the anguish she suffered as the child of warring parents, and the fact that she discovered her true calling later in life than most:
But when I’m all grown up and really quite old,
I finally figure out how to feel useful,
Enjoying the adventure of a two-country life.
As with all eighteen of the profiled subjects, we can learn more about Ynés Mexía in the supplement “Notes About the Lives,” which explains that her career as a botanist began at age fifty-five and led to the discovery of five hundred new species.
In his bold, graphic portraits, Rafael López signals each person’s setting and historical period through carefully selected details in their apparel, the background scenery, and through visual symbolism that enriches the poetic text. One noteworthy example is in the profile of Félix Varela (1788-1853), an exiled Cuban priest whose ministry in New York focused on newly arrived Irish immigrants. In his portrait, Varela wears a clerical collar and holds an olive branch in his right hand, signifying the pacifism that set him at odds with his countrymen in Cuba. On the opposite page, a smaller and simply rendered three-leaf clover pays homage to Varela’s Irish parishioners.
Readers familiar with Margarita Engle, whose poetry often elevates the work of unsung Latinas, will not be surprised that the collection includes seven noteworthy women. In addition, a generous proportion of those featured are of African or indigenous ancestry, and this diversity is satisfyingly represented in López’s stunning portrait work. By showcasing extraordinary, yet under-represented achievers, Bravo! enhances their visibility and sends an affirming message to girls and children of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. With that said, this collection would have felt more complete if it offered a wider representation of ancestral lands. Among the eighteen profiles, there are no Dominicans, and only one of each from Central America and South America. (Editors, please take note that Latinx people represent a broad sweep of nations and cultures.) Perhaps in recognition of the impossible task of selecting just eighteen subjects, a supplement at the back of the book entitled “More and More Amazing Latinos” provides a list of over twenty more Latinx achievers. These include Tony Meléndez, a Nicaraguan American guitarist; Adriana Ocampo, a Colombian American planetary geologist for NASA; and Jaime Escalante, a teacher of mathematics from Bolivia.
Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics is a jewel of a picture book. It offers children an introductory glimpse of important historical figures they may never otherwise hear about. And let’s face it: adults will learn a great deal from these pages, too. As members of the Latinx community, these history-makers represent a rich variety of educational and economic backgrounds, an impressive array of careers and causes, as well as a diverse range of racial and ethnic legacies. Taken together, the tributes in this beautiful book point to the depth, complexity, and durability of Hispanic contribution to culture, innovation, civic advances, and many other components of life in the United States.