Eureka! Book Detail

Poet Slave of Cuba, The: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano

Publication Information
Author:  Engle, Margarita Illustrator:  Qualls, Sean
Title:  Poet Slave of Cuba, The: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano Date:  2006
Publisher:  Henry Holt and Company City:  New York
ISBN, paperback:  0-8050-7706-5 ISBN, hardback:  

Recommended audience:
Family:   Young Adult:   Yes

General Information:
Book Type(s):    poetry, biography and autobiography

GED Descriptor(s):    language arts - reading| social studies

This true story of 19th Century Cuban poet Juan Francisco Manzano, who was born a slave, is told in free verse from various points of view--the boy, his mother, his father, and his owners.

Teaching Ideas:
Since the story is told from various points of view, teachers could use the book to illustrate perspective by choosing a particular passage and tell the event from the point of view of another character. Students might describe Juan's love of words and poetry and what escape they provide. Readers may also find it helpful to write a summary of Manzano's life, incorporating the various viewpoints. This especially brutal and humiliating account of slavery raises several questions for discussion and writing: How do individual personalities (mother, father, Dona Beatrice, La Marquesa, don Nicholas) and the legal system of slavery respond to Juan's oppression? How is Juan's experience important to us today? Readers might read Toussaint L'Ouverture by Walter Dean Myers to understand a similar opposition to slavery in Haiti. Students could write a verse expressing their thoughts about this story or write a letter from Juan to his owner.

Teaching Strategies:
bullet Discussion Webs
bullet Matrices or Charts
bullet Reader's Theater
bullet Think-Pair-Share
bullet Unsent Letters

Keywords: select any link below for a list of resources which also have that keyword
bullet Emotions-Personal Issues > emotions > imagination
bullet Emotions-Personal Issues > personal issues > individual > isolation
bullet Emotions-Personal Issues > personal issues > group > values > inhumanity
bullet Hardships > persecution
bullet Hardships > survival
bullet Literature and Language > figurative language
bullet Literature and Language > poetry

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