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Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  371 Ratings  ·  120 Reviews
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 Spani ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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Okay for Now by Gary D. SchmidtTrue by Katherine HanniganDivergent by Veronica RothBreadcrumbs by Anne UrsuWonderstruck by Brian Selznick
DCL Mock Newbery 2012
18th out of 42 books — 35 voters
Okay for Now by Gary D. SchmidtA Monster Calls by Patrick NessWonderstruck by Brian SelznickDivergent by Veronica RothInside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Newbery 2012
108th out of 142 books — 721 voters

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Community Reviews

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Sep 05, 2016 Kim rated it it was amazing
I read this book the very same day I received it in the mail. The cover is beautiful, but the content is even more beautiful. This book is destined to become a classic. This book should be shared over and over, and passed from generation to generation.

I think that I will go read it again!
Jul 17, 2011 Kimberly rated it it was amazing
A gorgeously written account of the first Carribean pirate shipwreck in the 1500s. Our hero, Quebrado, is a slave of Taino Indian and Spanish ancestry. He belongs to no one, a child of two worlds, of two languages. He is a slave on the famous Vernardino de Talavera's pirate ship, the first of its kind in the Caribbean Sea, and a very important hostage is on board with them, Alonso de Ojeda.

The story is based on actual events, though Quebrado himself is fictional.
After the shipwreck, Quedbrado i
Karen GoatKeeper
The book is written in sections. I found it took a section to get comfortable with the format.
The book is written in free verse. Each of the characters speaks in turns about what is going on. This can lead to seeing the same event in different ways as well as revealing what each character thinks about what is happening.
Spanish conquistadors moved into the New World including the West Indies. They enslaved the people or killed them. This is about a boy enslaved, freed by a storm and washed up on
Sarah Lawrence
I read this short book on the way back from my family's house this Thanksgiving.

I was surprised to find that it was told in verse--a quick flip-through would have shown me this, but this was one of the Free Book Day selections I had to grab before someone else did. Still, I was impressed with how much I was able to imagine and visualize with only a handful of words. Adjectives were used sparingly but with great effect.

I think the subtitle actually sells the book short: I picked this up mostly b
Michelle Llewellyn
Apr 05, 2014 Michelle Llewellyn rated it it was ok
The poetic narrative in this book is admirable but I was easily confused by all the different storylines and characters with strange names.
No one talks to each other in this story.
No action except what is presented through stream of consciousness by each individual character. Drawings of each character next to their name at the top of the page would've made it easier to follow.
This becomes redundant, all these first person internal narratives presenting a thin tale of slavery, shipwreck, and
After reading this book, I wondered why is it that

if we break up
the text on a page
it is
suddenly considered

Frankly, I just consider it easier to read! :) Ms. Engle's words are lovely, though, so I guess that is why it is "free verse" and not just a wise use of white space. However, I don't think this was the best format for this story. There was too much going on to be addressed in a short free-verse novel, and I didn't think the legend of the two lovers meshed well with the rest of the
Jun 28, 2012 Tiffany rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
This book could be read by a girl or boy who are in the grade 6 to 10. This book has spanish character names. The book is young boy that is called Quebrado that means half islander and half outsider, a broken. He has traded from ship to ship in the Caribbean Sea from as long as he can remember. But now the pirate captain wants this young boy to boy the translator to help navigate the worlds and words between his mother's and father's languages. Then a hurricane sinks the ship and most of the cre ...more
Jul 10, 2015 Verity rated it it was amazing
This was a really quick read. The poetry flowed perfectly and the characters well defined despite the shortness of the poem. I enjoyed it!
Kayla Edwards
This was a very unique poetry-style telling about the convergence of several very different characters' lives and how it changes the course of those lives forever. A pleasant read.
Vamos a Leer
Aug 12, 2015 Vamos a Leer rated it it was amazing
Margarita Engle's Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck is a beautifully written novel in verse, similar in many ways to her earlier book The Surrender Tree. Here again, Engle brings to life a lesser known period of Caribbean history through three distinct but intertwined stories: that of Quebrado; Naridó and Caucubú; and Ojeda and Talavera. While many of us are familiar with the history of Christopher Columbus, other stories of the conquest and colonization of the Americas are ...more
Aug 01, 2015 Melissa rated it really liked it
Margarita Engle uses only poetry to tell her historical fiction story through the eyes of five completely different characters in her Pura Belpré Honor book, Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck. The story is mainly told from the perspective of a boy that is called Quebrado, when he is stolen to be used as a slave by Bernardino de Talavera because he can speak both Spanish and the language of the native Cubans. Engle explains that Talavera and another character, Alonso de Ojed ...more
Jun 11, 2015 Colton rated it liked it
The rain is falling, lightning is shearing across the sky. Over a hundred lives on a ship.Throwing the waves side-to-side as the Hurricane Dancers by Margarita Engle.The genre of the book is realistic fiction.This story is about a kid about 15, 14 years old it doesn't say his name in the story also he’s a slave in the ship. Obviously, he wants out of this horrible ship, but of course they won’t let him go, so this storm comes and turns into a hurricane and wrecks the ship.Then he gets washed up ...more
Found this book at my local library and read it as part of my count for the Summer Reading Program. I was expecting this book to be okay and I only picked it up because it wasn't too long and the cover looked cool. I saw the word pirate.

I'm glad I picked this book up because it is very well written and I found it very interesting. I would definitely read more books by this author. I like her style and the format of the book was different from a lot of things I've been reading recently. The alte
Oct 10, 2014 Glenda rated it really liked it
This is the story of the first Caribbean pirate shipwreck. The main character, Quebrado, is fictional, but some of the other characters are based on real people. This story is told in verse from the different characters' points of view. Quebrado, which means "broken one" (since he is half islander, half Spaniard), has been forcibly taken by Bernardino de Talavera, a pirate captain, to be his translator. A hurricane breaks the ship apart and Quebrado finds himself among some villagers who treat h ...more
Sep 19, 2015 carrietracy rated it liked it
Shelves: childrens, poetry
Hurricane Dancers by Margarita Engle

This is not a glorified account of pirate life. It is not full of pirate lingo and cliche. Rather it's based on a real story of an early shipwreck, woven together with a legend of love passed down through generations of Cubans. Told in verse, the writing is spare but lovely. There are multiple narrators: the slave boy, a pirate captain, a fallen conquistador, a fisherman, a chieftain's daughter. Each page is headed with the name of the character, so it is not
Reviewed at:

Summary: Quebrado finds himself a slave on a pirate ship after being traded around since his mother died and his father ran away. He doesn't even remember his own name, has just come to answer to el quebrado- half islander, half outsider- since his mother was from Cuba while his father was a sailor. He currently works for Bernardino de Talavera, the first pirate of the Caribbean Sea, who has recently captured Alonso de Ojeda, a brutal conquist
Feb 19, 2012 Josiah rated it it was ok
"I have spent all my years
accepting sad truths."

—Quebrado, Hurricane Dancers, P. 8

Glowing with the soft lyrical electricity of all her other novels in verse, Hurricane Dancers is gracefully poetic without sacrificing the clarity of the narrative, and filled with gems of wisdom and personal understanding that sparkle like hidden diamond shards half buried beneath the sandy beach. At the same time, this book is a rarity as a historical fiction novel for young-adults that goes all the way back
Alanna (The Flashlight Reader)
In order to understand the context of the book, you must understand the historical setting. This story is a fictionalized account of the first Caribbean Pirate shipwreck on Cuba in the 1500s. Most of the characters are actual people from history. The only fictional character is Quebrado.

In the beginning of the novel, we meet Quebrado, a slave aboard Bernardino de Talavera’s ship—the first pirate ship of the Caribbean. At this point, Bernardino has captured Alonso de Ojeda and is holding him hos
Madigan McGillicuddy
Jan 15, 2012 Madigan McGillicuddy rated it it was amazing
I recently read Engle's wonderful picture book treatment of one of the earliest female scientists, Summer Birds: The Butterflies of Maria Merian, and when I saw she'd written a new book, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I was delighted and surprised to find it was a full-length novel in poetry format. Hurricane Dancers was completely different, but just as lovely. A variety of characters each takes turns telling the events of a famous shipwreck in the early days of European exploration of the ...more
Sep 27, 2011 Ellie rated it really liked it
Mock Newbery Book. Possibly a strong contender? I liked The Surrender Tree and this book definitely reminded me of it. Great read-alike to any other novel in verse (after they read Out of the Dust, some kids can't get enough of novels in verse and there aren't TONS of options). Interesting topic, engagingly told. Quick read, which is nice for kids who absolutely do not like to read. The only thing is that it's a little confusing, so while it is short and quick, it isn't necessarily good for some ...more
Jun 08, 2011 Valerie rated it really liked it
Just learned that I won this via First Reads - and it's in verse format? I'm really looking forward to this. :)


Finished. It's a really quick read, and I enjoyed it.

This follows the story of Quebrado, a slave boy working as a translator for the notorious Caribbean pirate Bernardino de Talavera. Also on board is conquistador Alonso de Ojeda, now a hostage. When a hurricane wrecks the ship, the characters become stranded on the island of Cuba and are forced to interact with the natives. Quebrad
Jul 09, 2012 Caroline rated it really liked it
This 2012 Pura Belpré Honor Book tells the tale, in spare verse, of the historic crash of Spaniards against the shores of the native peoples of Hispaniola and Cuba in the early 1500s. As the cover handsomely illustrates, there is lush flora, untamed wind and sea, a courageous young boy, and yes, a pirate rushes into the middle of things.

Hurricane Dancers provides a brief glimmer of lived experience from multiple perspectives as a young Ciboney Indian couple, two conquistadors, and a half-Taíno,
This is told in 5 voices. 5. While I appreciated having the names of the speakers listed over each page - so you not only knew who was talking, you could tell when that person would continue speaking for a few pages - 5 seems like a bit much in such a short book. I enjoyed learning about the very first Caribbean pirate, though we didn't get as much of his story as I had hoped. The author's note was very informative and it was cool to find out that most of the voices were real people. Including o ...more
May 14, 2013 Katrina rated it really liked it
Margarita Engle’s Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck is a beautifully written novel in verse, similar in many ways to her earlier book The Surrender Tree. Here again, Engle brings to life a lesser known period of Caribbean history through three distinct but intertwined stories: that of Quebrado; Naridó and Caucubú; and Ojeda and Talavera. While many of us are familiar with the history of Christopher Columbus, other stories of the conquest and colonization of the Americas are ...more
Mary Harris
Dec 06, 2012 Mary Harris rated it it was amazing
Citation: Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck, by Margarita Engle. (Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2011). 145p. Poetry.
Genre: Junior Book – Poetry
Summary: This book is a unique twist on poetry. There are individual poems that all make up a story. In the beginning of the book are the characters throughout the book. Each poem is part of the story that creates a whole. It is the story of a boy who is kidnapped on a ship and then the ship sinks and he finds his way to land again an
Amanda (Born Bookish)
Jul 19, 2012 Amanda (Born Bookish) rated it it was ok

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
Apr 21, 2013 Rll595ag_thomasjakovlic rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Margarita Engle’s Hurricane Dancers is historical accounting of real events but told in fictional style. There are only five characters in this story, but our writer gives each one distinctly unique and rich personal voice. Quebrado is the young ship’s slave who is both Taino Indian and of Spanish ancestry. Bernandino de Talavera is the first pirate of the Carribean. Alonso de Ojeda is a conquistador and the pirate’s prisoner, Narido is a young Ciboney Indian fisherman and Caucubu the young dau ...more
Jun 28, 2012 Beth rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
Audience: Intermediate grades, those who enjoy books written that integrate accurate parts of history, the lure of a pirate ship (pirates are very popular these days) may lure the children to read it
Appeal: The book is written in verse from 5 different perspectives. This helps students understand more than one point of view. This book lends itself to many different ways to integrate the theme of the book into all subjects. There are numerous activities you could do relating to each subject, writ
Mara Shaw
Jan 30, 2016 Mara Shaw rated it really liked it
History is only dry in the hands of thoughtless story tellers. Engle brings the history of the Caribbean to life in this short, well planned, poetic telling of the slave but of the Caribbeans first pirate.

more important than my review, my 15-year ills liked it so much that she made me read it. Young readers are the author's target audience, so she met her target.

A quick, lovely read that transports you to the Caribbean without the stereotypes.
Sandy Thorup : )
Feb 17, 2015 Sandy Thorup : ) rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this book. The poems and adventures of the main characters are AMAZING, and the writing style and technique of the author is awesome. I have always been a huge fan of POETRY, and this book was AWESOME at that. I recommend this book to anyone who loves poetry. It is a short book. I took only a day to read this. Anyone who loves poetry and ADVENTURE will love this book. Only 1 word can describe this:

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Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American poet, novelist, and journalist whose work has been published in many countries. She lives with her husband in northern California.
More about Margarita Engle...

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“I have spent all my years
accepting sad truths.

“I still think of myself
as a broken place, a drifting isle
with no home.

More quotes…