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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review: Hurricane Dancers (Engle)

Title: Hurricane Dancers
Author: Engle
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Pirates
Pages: 160

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Quebrado has been traded from pirate ship to ship in the Caribbean Sea for as long as he can remember. 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.

Five individuals tell the spare pieces of one overall story in this beautiful example of a free verse novel. It takes place during a time period not often written about and also helps readers understand the historical context. The language is figurative, captivating, and rhythmic and provides unforgettable imagery. Even the arrangement of the poems on each page adds to the rhythm.

The characters start with distinctive voices but each moves toward a feeling of uncertainty, showing the similarities in all of their situations: identity issues, dislocation, slavery.

I hope that teens will find this book. I know that it would work well in a classroom, but I would love for it to find readership on it's own. It is such a unique construct and a verse novel that really is poetic. One of my favorite poems is when the pirate ship itself talks about it's memories of being a tree on land. It "remembers

her true self,
her tree self,
and growing,
on shore."

I am looking forward to fall and getting teen feedback on this book. Have you read it? What did you think?

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