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Martí's Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertad
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Martí's Song for Freedom / Martí y sus versos por la libertad

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  199 ratings  ·  72 reviews
Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crece la palma,
Y antes de morirme quiero
Echar mis versos del alma.

As a boy, José Martí was inspired by the natural world. He found freedom in the river that rushed to the sea and peace in the palmas reales that swayed in the wind. Freedom, he believed, was the inherent right of all men and women. But his home island of Cuba was colonized by
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published May 1st 2017 by Children's Book Press, an imprint of Lee & Low Books
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm amazed that Martí's Song for Freedom is Emma Otheguy's debut picture book. She expertly details José Martí's Cuban childhood, his passion to end slavery and Spanish rule in Cuba, his subsequent imprisonment and expulsion from Cuba, and finally his return to Cuba to fight in the Ten Years' War. Throughout the story, Otheguy weaves in Martí's poetry alongside Beatrice Vidal's incredible illustrations and Adriana Domínguez’s Spanish translation. Readers will come away understanding José Martí's ...more
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not only is the story written in both English and Spanish, the author's note and back matter are, too!
Ben Truong
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Martí's Song for Freedom/Martí y Sus Versos por la Libertad is a children's picture book written by Emma Otheguy, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal, and translated by Adriana Domainguez. It is a biographical picture book of José Martí – poet and national hero.

Mid-September to Mid-October, at least in my part of the world is Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month, which I plan to read one children's book, particularly a biography, which pertains to the subject everyday this month. Therefore, I thought that th
Katey Howes
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On each left hand page, side-by-side columns of English and Spanish text, complemented by a verse of Marti's own poetry in both languages, face full page illustrations on the right hand pages. Historical accuracy mixed with lyrical text and gorgeous art make this story of poet, freedom fighter, and Cuban national hero Jose Marti a joy to read. Welcome back matter gives plenty of information and resources. A wonderful book for classrooms, libraries, and multilingual programs.
Gina Perry
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Emma Otheguy's debut picture book is a bilingual biography, written in verse. The story is at once poetic and profound. I had no prior knowledge of José Martí and found this to be a lush, lyrical, and intriguing primer on his story. José Martí's love for Cuba and New York, and the sacrifices he made for emancipation and Cuba's independence from Spain make for a captivating read. The illustrations are rich yet formal, adding to the weight of the story.
Jannie Ho
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written in verse, bi-lingual story on Jose Marti. Clear and easy read with text by Emma Otheguy on the left paired with Beatriz Vidal's beautiful gouache illustrations on the right, which serves the story well. Events are broken down in a well and thoughtful manner. I was curious to know more as I know very little about Jose Marti, and happy to see there was extensive afterword with more info. It would definitely make a wonderful addition to any library!
Alison Goldberg
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This bilingual story in verse pays tribute to an inspiring writer and freedom fighter from Cuba. Otheguy’s language is lovely (He chased the river/as it swelled with the rains/and rushed on to the saltwater sea) and seamlessly includes excerpts from Marti’s poem. An afterward provides additional biographical information. A wonderful book!
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A short bitter-sweet picture book about the life of Jose Marti. The pictures are bright and colorful. The topic might be too dense for younger audiences but middle/high school students who are reading about history or Spanish will gain a lot from this.
Jan 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This bilingual biography of José Julián Martí Pérez tells the story in freestyle verse of a Cuban national hero and writer.

The author reports that Martí “fell in love with his home island” of Cuba when he was a young boy. But he hated the slavery he saw and wished he could help end it. Cuba was ruled by Spain at that time, but in 1868, the Cuban people began a war to gain independence.

Martí wrote political tracts and handed them out everywhere. He was jailed and sent to a quarry to do forced la
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This picture book in both Spanish and English verse tells the story of José Martí. Martí spent his entire life working to end slavery in Cuba after witnessing the brutality first hand. At the time, Spain ruled Cuba and a war of independence started in 1868. Martí wrote against the Spanish government and was jailed and put to hard labor. At 17-years-old he was sent away from Cuba. He continued to fight for Cuba’s independence and settled in New York. He would travel into the Catskill Mountains to ...more
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I heard of Jose Marti when I read The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya. Arturo's grandparents loved Marti's poetry and his place in Cuban history. The excerpts that Arturo read within the story made me curious, so when I saw a picture book biography of Marti, I had to read it. The bilingual nature of the text makes sense, since Marti lived in the United States for years during his exile from Cuba, and he helped to make the U.S. and other countries around the world aware of conditions ...more
This bilingual picture book offers a brief introduction to Cuban freedom fighter and social activist Jose Marti. Troubled by the injustices he witnessed in Cuba, including slavery, the young man began writing and distributing social commentary holding the Spanish conquerors accountable for their behavior. He was arrested, made to work in a quarry, and then exiled from his beloved island, eventually settling in New York City. But even there, he noted that many failed to notice the injustices occu ...more
Alex  Baugh
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cuba, poets
Written in both English and Spanish, Otheguy introduces young readers to Cuban poet and freedom fighter José Martí. As a boy, Martí was introduced to the beauty of the Cuban countryside by his father, and he fell in love with it. But he also realized that not everything was wonderful when he saw enclaved people cutting sugarcane, but wanting to the free. Martí wished to end slavery in Cuba, however, Spain ruled the country and didn't care about the diverse people of Cuba. When the Cubans began a ...more
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book! Written in verse, but not rhyming verse. It would work well to put one of the pages under a document camera and take a close look at the line breaks, punctuation and formatting choices. I especially like how the author includes only one of each of the "versos sencillos" at the end of certain pages as a means of focusing in on the messages developed on the page and in the book. Use this as a mentor text for students to write their own stories in verse after doing research. ...more
Chana Stiefel
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Marti's Song for Freedom is a picture book biography about Jose' Marti, a poet and political activist who fought for the rights of oppressed Cubans under Spanish rule in the late 19th century. Through Marti's poetry, Emma Otheguy's lyrical text, and Beatriz Vidal's lovely illustrations, this book will transport you to another time and place. A Spanish translation side-by-side with English text will make this important book accessible to children, parents, and teachers all over the world. Backmat ...more
Danielle Hammelef
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In honor of celebrating Multicultural Children's Book Day in 2018, the publisher provided me with a copy for an honest review.

The book is gorgeously illustrated with stunning details and warm, vibrant colors. The lyrical text is written in English and Spanish in two separate columns on each page, making it perfect for bilingual readers as well as introducing another diverse culture to readers. I wasn't aware that Cuba's population is a "mixing bowl" of diverse people like the US before reading t
Stephanie Tournas
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an inspiring picture book biography of José Martí, Cuba's poet revolutionary. Lilting poetic prose, with parallel Spanish translation, tells the story of Martí's life in Cuba and the U.S., and how he grew to believe that Cubans should be free from slavery and from Spanish rule. Excerpts from his "Versos sencillos" follow at the bottom of each page of text. Luminous gouache paintings in a naive style show Martí in Cuba, New York and in the Catskill Mountains, and capture his love of free ...more
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
José Martí (1853-1895) was born when Spain ruled Cuba with an iron fist. Slave labor on sugar plantations allowed the rich to become richer, oppressing natives of all races. Determined to free his people José advocated for freedom from Spain, which led to imprisonment and deportation. Read the rest of the review on my blog. Are you following me yet? No? What are you waiting for??: https://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.... ...more
A beautiful mix of poetry and informational text, this tells the story of someone who saw injustice and fought to correct it, a concept that is very timely.

There is one thing that I think will confuse kids, at the end of the story, Marti returns to Cuba and the text says he "flew back." I couldn't figure out how he could have possibly flew, because it takes place during the 1800s, but then realized he didn't actually fly, just went back in haste. I don't think kids will get that and will assume
mindful.librarian ☀️
Thanks to Lee and Low for the review copy of this title.

This bilingual biography is written in a poetic format with both the main story and the back matter written in English alongside Spanish. The illustrations are soft and colorful. For those familiar with Jose Marti, this is a beautiful tribute. For those unfamiliar with his life and work, this is a wonderful introduction in a very accessible format. The bilingual presentation is much appreciated for use in library collections and classroom
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really liked the incorporation of Martí's work here.

Themes: Martí's connection to nature and love of the places he had connection to (in Cuba and in New York), his deep belief in the right of all people to liberty, the inspiration he drew from and the work he did with other people working for abolition for freedom.

Overall, both the English and Spanish text read well. Most of the time, it feels like the book was written in English first, but sometimes the Spanish is more natural. (And of course
Gaia Cornwall
Beautifully written, Emma Otheguy tells the heartbreaking and inspirational story of social justice activist, writer, poet and fighter for Cuban's Independence, Jose Martí. Perfectly paired with Beatriz Vidal's watercolors, Otheguy seamlessly weaves Martí's writing throughout. Educators especially should note, this biographical account includes bilingual text, a bibliography for further reading, excerpt from "Versos Sencillos" and thorough "Afterward" section. Highly recommended.
Written in both Spanish and English, this picture book biography tells the story of Jose Marti. Marti was a Cuban writer, who was exiled in the late nineteenth century because he spoke out against the colonial Spanish rulers and slavery. In New York, he continued to write and speak out for Cuban independence. Colorful illustrations complement the text nicely, making this a nice nonfiction resource for the classroom library.
Robin Newman
Aug 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Let Freedom Ring! Written in bilingual verse, this beautifully illustrated picture book recounts the extraordinary life of Jose Marti, the Cuban revolutionary and poet who fought and died for Cuba’s independence from Spain. Excerpts from Marti’s Versos Sencillos are carefully woven into the text. This book is the perfect mentor text for any classroom studying concepts of social justice. I highly recommend it.
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book opens up the possibility for multiple different discussions on the topics of poetry, Spanish, war, and slavery. I absolutely love how the book is written in English, and then in the column next to it is the same passage written in Spanish. I would love to read this with students and have those that know Spanish help me with the reading, this would be a great way to incorporate different languages into the classroom and build a respect and understanding for each.
Joy Keller
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the moving and lyrical story of Marti's fight to end slavery and Spanish rule in Cuba. It's bilingual and incorporates Marti's poetry throughout, and the story is perfectly complemented by the gorgeous illustrations. This fascinating biography has enormous educational potential in the classroom--and not just for little kids.
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful bilingual book on Jose Marti's work for Cuba's independence. I had never heard of Marti before but I am so glad to have come across and read this book. A strong book that weaves debut picture book author Emma Otheguy's story with Marti's own words into a tale for the ages and for all ages. Gorgeous illustrations by Beatriz Vidal.
Jason June
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Otheguy's text taught me so much about Cuban history that I knew nothing about. It is such a travesty to me how little of other nations' history I was taught in school, but books like Otheguy's help fill that gap of knowledge in a way that is accessible and brings a myriad of cultures together. Vidal's illustrations also bring this history of Cuba and Marti into vibrant detail.
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, but there was one fairly annoying point. Why in a book that has both English and Spanish together would the author use Spanish words on the English version? The translation in Spanish has the same word, so if you can't get the word from context, you are forced to get a dictionary or use the internet. Mildly annoying, even though I did enjoy the book.
For me reading this has been a joy as the language and poetic verse is beautiful in both Spanish and English. I would love to get my Spanish strong enough to read it aloud in both languages. Illustrations are beautiful as well. Can't tell if this is Caldecott eligible since author divides her time between New York and Buenos Aires.
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