Title: Hurricane Dancers: The First
Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck
Author: Margarita Engle
# Of Pages: 160
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Publication Date: March 15, 2011
Level: Middle Grade
Rating: 2 Hearts
Quebrado has been traded from pirate ship to ship in the Caribbean Sea for as long as he can remember. The sailors he toils under call him el quebrado—half islander, half outsider, a broken one. Now the pirate captain Bernardino de Talavera uses Quebrado as a translator to help navigate the worlds and words between his mother’s Taíno Indian language and his father’s Spanish.
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.
The book starts out with a brief historical setting and list of main characters. With a historical fiction book I like when the author includes some sort of background on which they drew their ideas from. I also found the cast list to be very helpful since there were five main characters, all with complicated names.
The book was divided into six main sections: Wild Sea, Brave Earth, Hidden, The Sphere Court, The Sky Horse, Far Light, and told from five different perspectives.
- Quebrado, a young boy who was captured from home to become a slave on the seas.
“Sailors call me a boy
of broken dreams,
but I think of myself
as a place—a strange place
dreamed by the sea,
half floating island
- Bernardino, a ruthless pirate who wants nothing but riches.
“I once owned a vast land grant
with hundreds of naturals,
Indian slaves who perished
From toil, hunger and plagues.
Crops withered, mines failed.
All my dreams of wealth vanished.”
- Alonso, is the governor of Venezuela, conqueror of the tribes, and now he’s Bernardino’s hostage.
“There were days when my sword
killed ten thousand.
Now, all those dead spirits haunt me,
and I am the one on a ship
- Narido, a young fisherman who helps Quebrado after he washed ashore from the shipwreck.
“Everyone calls me River Being
because I catch so many fish
with my feathered arrows
and winged spears.
- Caucuba, a young girl who has stolen Narido’s heart.
“When Narido is close,
my mind swoops
like the wind
in a stormy sky.”
I was quite disappointed in this book having read it right after Engle’s other MG book, The Firefly Letters, which really captured my heart. This time around I found the story lacking any emotional depth, I just didn’t connect with the story or any of the five main characters.