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Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  516 ratings  ·  161 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 & Company
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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Albeit that the sense of historical place works well and also engagingly enough in Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck, because in Maria Engle's blank verse texts there are never really ANY specific calendar dates being mentioned, the to and for me equally important and necessary sense of historical time does have the annoying and frustrating tendency to become more than a trifle confusing and problematic (since Engle actually seems to just assume that us readers should someh ...more
Jul 17, 2011 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

An excellent introduction to poetry in verse. Poetry in verse is not my favourite style of as I prefer ones that have some sort of rhythm or rhyme, yet, for the story that Engle was trying to tell, verse was the only style that would fit.

Hurricane Dancers tells the story of a young boy working as a slave on a ship whose name Quebrado meaning "broken one" as his heritage is mixed since he comes from a Native mother and a Spanish father. Alone since he was very young, Quebrado does not know wh
May 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
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!
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 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
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pirates, 2019
It was neat to read a whole story in poetry/verse form!

This pirate seafaring tale revolved around a native boy who was taken from his home and became a slave aboard a pirate ship. The ship perished in a Caribbean hurricane. The boy, the pirate captain, and the hostage - a Venezuelan governor survived and landed upon an island of cu ba "Friend Big", known today as Cuba.

Through the lens of these three characters and two more, characters of a folk tale Caucubu "Brave Earth" and Narido "River Being
Dec 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, poetry, history
A beautifully written book of prose of fictional slave boy based off of true historical events. The cadence is light, swift, and sometimes intense. Written in different "perspectives", it tells of a boy's plight after being taken captive on the first pirate ship, how it wrecked, and the people he found afterwards. I read it in only a couple of hours, so it is a small quick book. ...more
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is book is poetry in prose for children about the first Caribbean pirates. It is sparse in words, but is a great book for understanding characters and "reading in between the lines."

Quebrado is a mixed-race child stolen and enslaved on a ship. On a journey that ship is later sunk in a hurricane.

He arrives on an island, but is not the sole survivor. He must face his past to move forward in the future.
Pat C
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was told in different points of view and in a poetic kind of verse, which was pretty cool.

It's a historical fiction story about The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck (as he title says) and was short and to the point which I loved and it told the short tale of a slave boy who tries to find some kind freedom for himself while dealing with his original captors. It was a fun read and kept me engaged. But it mentioned the boy's (Quebrado) parents a lot and I wish in the end I knew what happ
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I enjoyed learning the historical facts about the early history of Cuba that were revealed in this book, but the story itself lacked something. I might have liked it more had the drama of the flight of the lovers Narido and Caucubu been expanded upon, or the thoughts of Bernardino de Talavera and Alonso de Ojeda as they wandered, shipwrecked, on the island (did they repent their evil ways?) been dealt with at greater length. However, I understand the the story was mainly about the boy Quebrado a ...more
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 19, 2012 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
Jan 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Some lovely atmosphere and writing here, but I had trouble following the timeline, which drew me out of the story. I could understand it only when I thought of it as a story without a linear timeline. Which I don't think was the intention. ...more
Jul 10, 2015 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. ...more
Becky B
Quebrado is a gold mine for the pirate captain. With his half Caribbean native, half Spanish blood he can speak the tribal languages of the islands in addition to Spanish and act as translator for the pirate. Qeubrado can't wait to escape the abusive captain's clutches. Alonso de Ojeda also can't wait to escape the pirate's clutches. He was a brutal conquistador and Spanish governor until Captain Bernardino de Talavera kidnapped him. Meanwhile on a nearby island, the villagers have gathered in a ...more
Jan 07, 2013 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
Vamos a Leer
Aug 11, 2015 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
Lena Platt
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spring-2020
Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck, by Margarita Engle, is a novel written in poetic free verse. Quebrado, meaning “broken,” is the main character. He is a slave aboard a pirate ship captained by Bernardino de Talavera, a real historical figure. Quebrado was born to a Spanish father and Ciboney Indian mother. He speaks two languages and as a slave, this is his only value to the pirate de Talavera. He abuses Quebrado, beats him to comply and translate for the wares that de Ta ...more
Rosemarie Hill
Dec 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-11-20
Warnings: religious connotations, abuse (physical), mental disorders (PTSD)

This was a poetry book. Each poem's title is the name of one of the characters. The story is about the survivors of a shipwreck and the protagonist is "Quebrado" who was a slave to the pirate captain of the ship. The story follows him as he meets new people and tries to find his place despite his torn heritage. However, he isn't the only one to survive the shipwreck and his past comes back to haunt him.

It was an okay boo
Chloe Poe
Mar 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Hurricane Dancers
Free Choice
Genre: Poetry- Narrative
Awards: Pura Belpre Honor Book
Audience: 6th-10th grade

Hurricane dancers is a book of poems from the perspective of a Caribbean pirate, the hostage, a slave, a fisherman, and the village chief's daughter. Each poem is a narrative because it tells the story of each character and their struggles on the island after the hurricane hit. Through the narrative poems the reader learns about the life and struggles of each character.

The author, Margarit
ACS Librarian
In the 1500s, pirates roamed the Caribbean Sea. Hurricane Dancers is the story of a historical pirate (Talavera), a conquistador (Ojeda), and three natives (Quebrado, Narido, and Caucubu). When a hurricane strikes, the ship wrecks on an island and the power structure is reversed. Well the pirate and the conquistador survive this strange new world of natives, jungles, and wild animals?

This book was a bit challenging to follow at times. It is written in verse and every page is from a different poi
Beth (FebruaryFilly)
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The absolute surprise discovery of our homeschooling year. I didn’t expect such a rich experience when I randomly reserved every interesting looking book having to do with pirates from our library. Then we dove into a weather and a related natural disasters unit so with the title I held it off til the end of our pirates journey as a melding point between two units. And got so much more.

Early world exploration, native peoples, a play told in verse, language references, piracy, and yes, a hurrican
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Unexpected beauty. Recommended to me as a homeschool read for indigenous peoples day, I had no idea what I was getting with this book. What I got was something that was part historical fiction, part legend, part baring of cultural scars, and part poetry told in an understated free verse that was just lovely. I need to check out some other works by this author. I read this in one short sitting and I feel like I need to reread it and read something else like it.

Also, wouldn’t this be kind of grea
My Review: After enjoying Firefly Letters by Engle, I wanted to track down more books in verse by her and came across this one. I really enjoyed this one with the various perspectives we get throughout the story. From the slave boy who has been shuffled around, to the privateer and the pirate ship captain, then to the natives they come across after the wreck. It is easy reading and can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, and the story keeps the pages turning to see what happens next. I love the d ...more
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I love poetry that tells a story, and Engle does this marvelously. With multiple narrators in this verse fiction book (very short verses), we learn meet the governor of Venezuela and the pirate who kidnapped him. Full of real and fictional characters and events, my only concern (complaint?) is that there are perhaps too many narrators so it's hard to distinguish the voices sometimes despite including their name at the top of each page. If I struggled a little as an adult, I expect young readers ...more
Sadly, I found this book underwhelming.
I've read poetry in verse (narrative poetry) before, but Hurricane Dancers (sadly) read a bit flat to me. I think it was because of the alternating narratives between Quebrado, Talavera & Ojeda (and Narido and Cucubu). The book's voice seemed to suffer by changing and switching perspectives every other page. I would have much rather stayed with Quebrado and maybe gotten one or two poems from Talavera & Ojeda at the very end.

I did enjoy reading the Author'
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There are many stories going on in this short book making me want to investigate more. Who is Bernardino de Talavera, and why did he become a pirate? Alonso de Ojeda traveled with Amerigo Vespucci, so how did that come about? Narido and Caucubu's relationship is legend, so did it end well? There are so many questions from reading this exciting story! ...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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“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…