Margarita Engle

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Margarita Engle
Margarita Engle.JPG
Engle in 2014
Born (1951-09-02) September 2, 1951 (age 64)
Pasadena, California, United States
Occupation Writer
Nationality American

Margarita Engle (born September 2, 1951) is a Cuban American writer. She became the first Latino awarded a Newbery Honor in 2009 for The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom.[1]


Engle was born in Pasadena, California, and became a botanist and professor at California State Polytechnic University.[2]

Her young adult novels in verse include:

  • The Surrender Tree, recipient of the first Newbery Honor awarded to a Latino, as well as the Pura Belpré Medal, Américas Award, and Jane Addams Award.[3]
  • The Poet Slave of Cuba received the Pura Belpré Medal, Américas Award, and an International Reading Association Award.[4]
  • Tropical Secrets received the Sydney Taylor Award[5] and Paterson Prize.
  • The Firefly Letters is a Pura Belpré Honor Book, and a finalist for the Jane Addams Award and California Book Award.[6]
  • Hurricane Dancers is a Pura Belpré Honor Book and ALA Best Books for Young Adults nominee [7]
  • The Wild Book is a novel in verse inspired by stories told by Margarita's grandmother about her childhood.
  • The Lightning Dreamer is a novel in verse of the daring abolitionist Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, nicknamed Tula.

Engle is also the author of picture books Summer Birds, When You Wander, and middle grade novel in verse Mountain Dog.

She lives in Central California, where she enjoys helping her husband with his volunteer work for wilderness search and rescue dog training programs. Her picture book When You Wander, illustrated by Mary Morgan, is about search-and-rescue dogs. Her middle-grade novel Mountain Dog was released in August 2013.


THE POET SLAVE OF CUBA, A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano (Henry Holt & Co., 2006)

  • Pura Belpré*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

THE SURRENDER TREE, Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom (Henry Holt & Co., 2008)

  • 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 Editors Choice
  • Kansas State Reading Circle
  • Michigan Great Lakes Great Books Award Master List
  • Junior Library Guild Selection

TROPICAL SECRETS, Holocaust Refugees in Cuba (Henry Holt & Co., 2009)

  • Sydney Taylor Award
  • Paterson Prize
  • Américas Award Commendation
  • New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
  • ALA Best Books for Young Adults Nominee
  • California Teachers Association Recommended Book

THE FIREFLY LETTERS, A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba (Henry Holt & Co., 2010)

  • Pura Belpré Honor
  • Jane Addams Award Finalist
  • California Book Award Finalist
  • International Reading Association Notable Book for a Global Society
  • NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Book
  • Amelia Bloomer Book
  • TAYSHAS Choice
  • Junior Library Guild Selection

SUMMER BIRDS, The Butterflies of Maria Merian (Henry Holt & Co., 2010, picture book)

  • Kirkus Best Books for Children
  • NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Book
  • Amelia Bloomer Book

HURRICANE DANCERS, The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck (Henry Holt & Co., 2011)

  • 2012 Pura Belpré Author Honor
  • 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

DRUM DREAM GIRL, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt., 2015)

  • 2016 Charlotte Zolotov Award


  • 2016 Pura Belpré Author Award



  1. ^ "Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922-Present". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  2. ^ In other words: literature by Latinas of the United States, Roberta Fernández
  3. ^ "The Surrender Tree". Macmillan. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "The Poet Slave of Cuba". Macmillan. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "The Sydney Taylor Book Award". Archived from the original on December 27, 2010. Retrieved April 1, 2011. 
  6. ^ "The Firefly Letters". Macmillan. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Margarita Engle - Books About Cuba". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 

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