Lion Island

Cuba's Warrior of Words

Lion Island

For Ages: 10 and up
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.
  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 
  • 176 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781481461122 | 
  • August 2016 | 
  • Grades 5 and up
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List Price $16.99
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Read an Excerpt

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About the Author

Margarita Engle
Photograph by Marshall W. Johnson

Margarita Engle

Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American poet and novelist whose books include The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor book and winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, the Pura Belpré Award, and the Américas Award; The Poet Slave of Cuba, winner of the Pura Belpré Award and the Américas Award; Tropical Secrets; The Firefly Letters; Hurricane Dancers; The Wild Book; The Lightning Dreamer, winner of the PEN Literary Award for Young Adult Literature; Silver People; Drum Dream Girl, winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award; and her memoir Enchanted Air, winner of the Pura Belpré Author Award and a Walter Dean Myers Award Honor. She lives with her husband in central California. Visit her at MargaritaEngle.com.

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