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With a Star in My Hand: Rubén Darío, Poetry Hero

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  157 ratings  ·  32 reviews
A novel in verse about Rubén Darío, the Nicaraguan poet and folk hero who initiated the literary movement of Modernismo.

As a little boy, Rubén Darío loved to listen to his great uncle, a man who told tall tales in a booming, larger-than-life voice. Rubén quickly learned the magic of storytelling, and discovered the rapture and beauty of verse.

A restless and romantic soul,
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published February 18th 2020 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful way to learn about a noted poet ... through poetry!
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I became interested in Ruben Dario when I was doing research on dyslexia and poetry, after being inspired by Margarita Engle's The Wild Book (in which the main character is a Ruben Dario fan.) I consider myself something of a poetry aficianado, but I'd never even heard of him. Fact is, nearly all of the poets I learned about, even in grad school, are English (although to be fair, reading poets in translation is not the ideal way to study them.) Even in English, though, Dario's poetry is breathta ...more
Alex  Baugh
Engle explores the life of Rubén Darío. Born in Nicaragua, abandoned by his mother, Rubén began experimenting with different, more complex poetry forms at such a young age, he became known as el niño poeta. This is such a lovely book and led me to discover more about the poet and read his own poems.
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Margarita Engle crafts a beautiful novel-in-verse of the early life of Nicaraguan national poet Rubin Dario. The prose is alive with vivid words painting Dario’s world filled with emotion as he experiences abandonment, political unrest, loss, racism. This is definitely a finely crafted YA biography that will be savored by poetry lovers. Highly recommend.
Claire Annette
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
With a Star in My Hand is a biography written in verse about Nicaragua's national poet. Abandoned by his mother as a child, Rubén Darío, was raised by his great uncle, El Bocon – Big Mouth and his wife, Bernarda. His childhood was filled with stories told by his uncle, the cook, and the priest yet he desperately wanted to know his own story. We learn of his beginnings as a child poet-

Math, geography, and grammar
Also have their orderly place in my school day,
But poetry arrives in its own way,
Reviewing this for a professional magazine, so see final (amazing) review there.
Mar 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, young-adult
Engle captures Dario's life by telling his story through poetry. Readers see his world come to life as he grew up and matured in his gift. ...more
Feb 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
With a Star in My Hand is a poetic biography by Margarita Engle, a Cuban-American writer, on Rubén Darío, a famous Nicaraguan poet of Spanish-Indian descent. Set during his childhood and adolescence, the book focuses on the development of Darío’s poetry and how his work is intertwined with his life. However, writing poetry isn’t easy for him as he has to deal with being underestimated by the adults around him.

This is a good book because even though it isn’t an autobiography, and even though I ha
Rubén Darío was a Nicaraguan poet who became famous for his poetry at a young age. In this biography-in-verse, Margarita Engle follows Darío from his early childhood to when he had his first book of poetry published at the age of 21. Darío was abandoned by his mother and taken in by family. From a young age, he was a dreamer who loved listening to and reading stories. As he got a little older, he started writing poetry, and discovered he could trade his poems for things he wanted, such as candy. ...more
Mar 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
A poet writes poems about a poet.✨

But seriously, this is stunning. Engle expertly weaves together a novel in verse on the early life of Rubén Darío.
It’s packed with emotional poetry that exquisitely captures what it’s like to be young. What it’s like to be on the edge of political explosion. What it’s like to have so much to say, but doubts about who will listen. What it’s like to have one hand in reality, the other up among the stars.
It’s very much rooted in Darío’s time, but surprisingl
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ruben Dario was abandoned by his mom in a field of cows when he was very young. He was taken in and adopted by older family members. He was always fascinated by words and poetry and began writing poems to express his thoughts and feelings. He became known as the Boy Poet and used his poems as currency - to buy candy or to get into the circus. Although he became famous at an early age, his life was not an easy one.
This is a novel in verse biography about a Nicaraguan poet. Engle's writing is lyri
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Margarita Engle is a gifted poet and sharing this account of Rubén Darío’s early life and growth into a young man and poet is emotionally stirring and empowering. So much of what Darío accomplished defied the circumstances he faced as a child - circumstances many children still face today. Denied and abandoned by his parents, exposed to violence and injustice, Darío found expression through the words of others and his own writing. There is a depth of power in the idea that poetry is storytelling ...more
Anita McDivitt Barrios
This is an interesting portrait of child-poet turned international poetry star, but chronic alcoholic, Rubén Darío, a Nicaraguan poet during the turn of the century.

His first published poem comes at age 13, in a local newspaper, but he quickly rises to international acclaim. He flees Nicaragua for El Salvador, where the president takes him under his wing, and where his drinking issues begin to surface.

He's best known for initiating the Spanish-American literary movement known as modernismo (mode
Jul 08, 2020 rated it liked it
A decent biography of the famous Nicaraguan poet set to poems written by Engle. Engle does a good job of creating a readable narrative while focusing on highlights of Darío’s life and mostly avoiding preachy lessons.

My one complaint would be that the subject matter feels YA while the poem structure reads as middle grade. I enjoyed With a Star in My Hand, but I have no idea what age group would enjoy the book. I can’t see teenagers who would be inspired by Darío’s story wanting to read something
Jenny Staller
Not quite historical fiction, not quite nonfiction look at the life of Ruben Dario, a Nicaraguan poet. Told in verse, this novel explains his importance to the poetry community and how he was revolutionary in how he broke the conventional rules of what poetry was. I think this novel will be a tough sell to students because of its genre and form, but I learned a lot from it.
Candice Trimm
Nov 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Beautifully executed storytelling through verse. Margarita Engle introduces us to the famous Ruebn Dario, a poetry hero. She magically translates his story into the pages of this book. I'm amazed by how she captures Rubens, emotions, dreams, and struggles while walking us through his timeline. I am in Awe of both Engle and Dario. ...more
This starts a bit slow, but once it gets going it's quite compelling, and I think it's one of Margarita's strongest verse novels. I think it works better than some of her other subjects because his career both started young and was shaped so much by his young life, so it makes for a more immediately appealing person to follow. ...more
Mr. Wright
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful, quick read. A book of poems about a poet, it was historical and beautiful in nature.

It reminded me of the importance of now, and to always value love, health, and truth over wealth and other superficial things.

A nice read for a Sunday morning. I highly recommend.
Lola Fash
Feb 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book not knowing anything about it, not even that it was an autobiography, and I have to tell u that I was not disappointed. It was nice to tell of a poet through poems and now I want to read Rubén Darío's tornado is words!!! ...more
Mar 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This would be a great teaching book, especially in a unit about poetry. Engle writes in the voice of Darío, giving the reader access to his poetic education and his experiences of politics in the Americas.
Elizabeth Denis
May 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
A lovely memoir about a loved poet, Ruben Dario, written in verse. This book is relatable to anyone who has ever felt like an outsider or has felt rejection. I thought it was clever way to share the life of a poet who influenced the author's family. ...more
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book so much! Not only is it filled with the background on such a beloved poet but the poetry here sings on its own. Such gorgeous writing!
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
beautifully written but not sure of audience appeal.
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
For a poetry book I thought this was very good. Not a lot of rhyming which is not all about poetry but it still tells a great story.
Apr 04, 2020 rated it liked it
3.8 Stars
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another wonderful novel in verse by a great author.
Great Books
Readers are introduced to the tumultuous early life of Nicaraguan poet Ruben Dario and the birth of modernismo in this poignant biography in verse.

Reviewer #20
Alexandra Alessandri
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m a huge fan of Margarita Engle‘s work. WITH A STAR IN MY HAND is beautiful. I loved learning more about Rubén Darío, and Engle’s poetry is absolutely lovely.
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Biographical novel in verse about the life of Ruben Dario (who I previously knew next to nothing about). Slow to start, but really good overall.
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
This historical novel in verse about Nicaraguan poet, Ruben Dario, moved too slowly. A lot of written word about poetic form, and not a lot of action. Probably won't hold students' interests much. ...more
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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.

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