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Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  347 ratings  ·  129 reviews
2013 Pura Belpre Award for Illustration

As the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a former slave, Martin de Porres was born into extreme poverty. Even so, his mother begged the church fathers to allow him into the priesthood. Instead, Martin was accepted as a servant boy. But soon, the young man was performing miracles. Rumors began to fly around the city of a stran
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published June 26th 2012 by Clarion Books (first published June 19th 2012)
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Richie Partington
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Richie's Picks: MARTIN DE PORRES: THE ROSE IN THE DESERT by Gary D. Schmidt and David Diaz, ill., Clarion, June 2012, 32p., ISBN: 978-0-547-61218-8

“If you hear the song I sing
You must understand
You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand”
-- Chet Powers (aka Dino Valenti), “Get Together”

"Soon, all the people of the barrios knew who the young cirujano was. When a man was hurt, he was carried to Martín. When a child grew pale, she was brought to Martín. When a slave was whipped, he
Jenifer Neilsen
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
Audience: Primary
Genre: biography
Pura Belpre Illustrator Award Winner 2013

The son of a Spanish nobleman and a former slave born out of wedlock, Martin de Porres was born into extreme poverty. His mother begged the church fathers to allow him into the priesthood. When his father returned from Ecuador, he was accepted as a servant boy. But soon, the young man was performing miracles for the nobles and and beggars in Lima. After a healing, he was given lemon seeds which then bore fruit during every
L13F_Robert Rising
Sep 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Newbery-winning Gary D. Schmidt's deftly-penned biography of St. Martin de Porres, the first black Catholic saint in the Americas, is an absolute joy. Martin, the "rose in the desert", was born the son of an African slave and a Spanish conqueror into the extreme poverty of 17th century Peru. When Martin the young boy entered the Dominican monastery in Lima as a willing servant, he began to bloom into the miracle-worker of legend:

"...Some said that Martin could appear at two places at the same ti
Oct 06, 2017 added it
This is a heart warming book about a boy that is born into poverty and dreams of being a priest.He never gives up ! The story is aligned with the story we hear about the Saint Martin de Porres even making note of the "rose in the desert" as was the nickname his mother gave him. This book is a perfect book for young ones that demonstrates that hard work and dedication pay off!
Charmie McKinney
Martin de Porres the Rose in the desert - Gary D. Schmidt
This book won the 2013 Pura Belpre Award for Illustration in which it was well deserved! It is a multicultural picture book which depicts the racial and economic prejudice in 17th century Peru. "Martin" was born into poverty and was frowned upon by the priest because he was born to a slave mom who was African and a father, a royal conqueror, who was Spanish. As he grew up, many people disliked him because of his racial background. However,
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This incredibly beautiful picture book is the story of the life of St. Martin de Porres. Martin was a young bi-racial boy in the early colonial period in Lima, Peru. His story is one of struggle and prejudice in a time in which it was systematic and viscerally cruel. Martin's actions of love from a boy to a man show others that love, real love, is universal.

The artwork in this book is stunning. It is no wonder that it is a Pura Bulpre Illustrator award-winner. Each page's color and form draws y
Jul 11, 2013 added it
Shelves: children-s-lit
Audience: Primary
Genre: Biography

"And the stories became more wonderful then before. Some said that Martin could appear in two places at the same time. Others saw angels with lighted candles guiding him through the halls."

I choose this quote because I felt it beautifully summed up the life of Martin de Porres. He was always a light for others, brightening the dark spaces of the world and provided hope and meaning for all. It also shows the legacy of Martin de Porres and how his story was told th
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Audience: Children ages 8-10
Genre: non-fiction story
Format: Picture Book

Quote:"He is a rose in the desert" Pg.7 and Pg.25

I chose this quote because it describes how his mother views him (pg.7) and then later in the book (p.25) it is how others described him after they really go to know him and see his heart.

It is rare to see a rose in a desert. I could picture how shocking it would be to be driving down the interstate and see a single rose growing along side the road. It just doesn't happen. It
Mississippi Library Commission
This is one of the prettiest picture books we've seen in a long time. David Diaz is amazing; the illustration of Martin and the angels literally gave us goosebumps. Gary D. Schmidt's text is pitch perfect. It lets children learn a few unique words, including some Spanish and monastery-related words, from context clues and the accompanying pictures. It also highlights the interesting aspects of Martin's exceptional life without becoming dry or boring. We really enjoyed meeting Martin de Porres, t ...more
Edward Sullivan
A beautifully written and illustrated biography of the first black saint in the Americas.
Children's Literature Centre at FSU
Martin de Porres: the rose in the dessert, is a quality book about a young boy named, Martin. Martin was born into poverty and battled the label of a slave boy throughout most of his life. However this did not stop Martin; he worked hard in every job he was given and when told he was to start learning how to heal people, he became a real star. This young slave boy was soon recognized as “the rose in the desert,” because he cared for the less fortunate and always lent a healing hand. This book te ...more
Sep 13, 2018 added it
Shelves: books-1-10
Summary: This story is a true story about Martin de Porres who

Evaluation: I thought this book was ok, I personally didn't enjoy it as much. I think this is because I couldn't connect to the story on some level. I thought his story was a touching one since he was able to make it out of a hard life, but it still did not interest me.

Teaching Idea: For this book, I would have students create their own creative writing piece that encompasses some sort of struggle for the main character, just like M
Jul 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Well-written. The illustrations are also well done, although not quite my favorite style. St. Martin de Porres is truly an amazing saint. A note of caution regarding the age-appropriateness of this story - Martin broke down many barriers and truly saw the worth of everyone, but the hard-heartedness of others could be hard to explain to very young children. The benefit is that they can see no one is perfect, not even priests. The downside is that they might not be able to understand that the sacr ...more
Kathryn Bergeron
Summary: The life of St. Martin de Porres.

Why I Read This: When I met Gary Schmidt, I heard about this book. I was really interested, particularly because he isn't Catholic.

Review: I loved this book. Granted, I'm a sucker for a Dominican, but St. Martin de Porres is one of those extraordinary Saints that have captured my heart. Really, the only story that I ever remember is the story of the mice, which only has a mention here, then I remember his holiness and poverty.
Valeria Ayala-Nazario
This great book has quality content. It is unique the way that the story of Martin de Porres, without him saying anything in the book and I was able to to get to know him and his personality. There are great word choice and great sentence structures. The way that they told his death without saying he died, is great for kids. The images in the book are impeccable and help carry the story with engagement.
Dec 28, 2017 rated it liked it
2013 Pura Belpre Winner for Illustration

Theme: Healing/Religion/Slave/Spain/Priesthood/Saint

This is too long for storytime.

"The illegitimate child of a Spanish nobleman and a former slave, Martin de Porres was born into extreme poverty. Barred from the priesthood, he joined the Dominican Order as a servant instead. Soon he was performing miracles and healing nobles and beggars alike. As a celebration of his selflessness, he was canonized into the sainthood." - inside left jacket flap
Amy Lafleur Meyers
Gary Schmidt shows how Martin de Porres came from humble beginnings - son of Spanish conqueror and an African slave - who grew up in poor barrio, then later became a saint. An author's note explains the life of Martin de Porres and how he helped the poor of Lima, Peru in the 1500s-1600s. An interesting and readable book that tells the story of a saint in colorful illustrations.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Beautifully told and illustrated story about a man whose humility and charity deserve to be honored.
Biography. patron saint of universal brotherhood, interracial relations, social justice, those of mixed race, public education and animal shelters.
Jul 10, 2013 rated it really liked it

GENRE: Biography, Multicultural Literature

AWARD: 2013 Pura Belpre Award for Illustration


"After thirteen years, every soul in Lima knew who Martin was: Not a mongrel. Not the son of a slave. "he is a rose in the desert," they said." (p. 25)

I chose this quote because I believe that it promotes a strong mental image by using the metaphor “he is a rose in the desert” to explain Martin de Porres. Martin did not become successful overnight and he was
Jessica Valdez
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
With images of surpassing beauty and power and a text both simple and lyrical, Diaz and Schmidt tell the life of the first black saint of the Americas.
Martín’s mother was African, his father a Spanish nobleman. His father took his children from Lima, Peru, where they lived in desperate poverty, to Ecuador, where he gave them his name. Back in Lima, Martín was apprenticed to a healer, and at 15 he asked admittance to the monastery. Because of his mixed blood he could not be a priest,
Margo Tanenbaum
Dec 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Newbery-honor winning novelist Gary D. Schmidt and Caldecott-winning illustrator David Diaz together have created a beautiful and moving portrait of Martin de Porres, a 17th century Peruvian saint. I was completely unfamiliar with this remarkable individual, an illegitimate child both to a former African slave and a Spanish conqueror. He grew up in poverty until the age of eight, when his noble father came from Ecuador and took Martin and his sister Juana back with him to raise. Later apprentice ...more
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Text-to-Self Connection:
I would ask my students, if they feel comfortable raising their hands, who has mixed race parents. How does this relate to the main character, Martin? How do you think Martin's parentage inspired or helped his compassion toward the poor and oppressed? I would also ask my students if they've ever gone hungry before or seen a truly hungry person before, how that relates back to the story, and how that influenced Martin to act as he did.

Text-to-Text Connection:
I would ask
I generally try my best to stay away from books with a tough subject. However, I was curious about this figure that I had never heard of before. Juan Martín de Porres was born in Lima, Perú on December 9, 1579 to a freed slave, Ana Velásquez, and a nobleman, Don Juan de Porres. Here is a man despite racial prejudices toward none pure bloods, excelled in his abilities. He is noted with healing the poor and nobles alike. Some even say he healed them with just a glass of water. He died on November ...more
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Martin De Porres is the story of a young boy who was born to a Spanish nobleman and a slave. He lived in the poorest of the poor section. When he gets older, his father claims him and he is allowed to be an apprentice for a surgeon. It is quickly noted that he was excellent at his job. People and animals came from all over to be healed by Martin. His true calling was to be a Priest, but because of his mix-racial background, that was not possible. Instead he served in the church in many other way ...more
Katie Fitzgerald
Martin de Porres was a brother of the Dominican order who became the first black saint from the Americas when he was canonized in 1962.

The book begins with Martin's baptism as an infant, and spends quite a bit of time showing the limits that were placed on him because he was of mixed race. Then the focus shifts to Martin's work as a healer, and to some of the miracles associated with him.

About the Illustrations
Caldecott Medalist David Diaz is the illustrator, and his pictures didn't
Onesia Thompkins
Oct 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tracy Bye
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: primary
Audience: Primary
"He is a rose in the desert" is first seen on the cover in the title and on page 7 and then later we see it being used again (page 25) "After thirteen years, every soul in Lima knew who Martin was: not a mongrel. Not the son of a slave. He is a rose in the desert"

I choose this quote for many reasons. It has great meaning to the life of Martin de Porres. He grew up in extreme poverty and was often known as a son of a slave. This book made me think about the video
Emma Hoyer
I had not heard the story of Martin de Porres before, but I’m glad that I had the chance to hear about him from the perspective of a children’s book. Of course, there are details that are not mentioned or glossed over in this book that, in real life, were much more horrible and difficult to deal with. That’s the beauty of children’s books, especially when introducing some difficult subjects to children. This book is definitely one that would aid in integrating culture into the classroom, and the ...more
Laura Brenneisen
Title: Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert By: Gary D. Schmidt Illustrated by: David Diaz Copyright: 2012 Lit Require: Pura Belpre (illustrator) Pages: 32

This book is about an African American woman who gives birth to a Spanish baby. The baby's father was royalty and could not be seen with the poor African American woman. One day the father came back and took Martin and his sister Juana out of the poverty they were living in. Martin was told he would never get work and he would just be the
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Gary D. Schmidt is an American children's writer of nonfiction books and young adult novels, including two Newbery Honor books. He lives on a farm in Alto, Michigan,with his wife and six children, where he splits wood, plants gardens, writes, feeds the wild cats that drop by and wishes that sometimes the sea breeze came that far inland. He is a Professor of English at Calvin College.