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The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom

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It is 1896. Cuba has fought three wars for independence and still is not free. People have been rounded up in reconcentration camps with too little food and too much illness. Rosa is a nurse, but she dares not go to the camps. So she turns hidden caves into hospitals for those who know how to find her. Black, white, Cuban, Spanish—Rosa does her best for everyone. Yet who It is 1896. Cuba has fought three wars for independence and still is not free. People have been rounded up in reconcentration camps with too little food and too much illness. Rosa is a nurse, but she dares not go to the camps. So she turns hidden caves into hospitals for those who know how to find her. Black, white, Cuban, Spanish—Rosa does her best for everyone. Yet who can heal a country so torn apart by war? Acclaimed poet Margarita Engle has created another breathtaking portrait of Cuba. The Surrender Tree is a 2009 Newbery Honor Book, the winner of the 2009 Pura Belpre Medal for Narrative and the 2009 Bank Street - Claudia Lewis Award, and a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.


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It is 1896. Cuba has fought three wars for independence and still is not free. People have been rounded up in reconcentration camps with too little food and too much illness. Rosa is a nurse, but she dares not go to the camps. So she turns hidden caves into hospitals for those who know how to find her. Black, white, Cuban, Spanish—Rosa does her best for everyone. Yet who It is 1896. Cuba has fought three wars for independence and still is not free. People have been rounded up in reconcentration camps with too little food and too much illness. Rosa is a nurse, but she dares not go to the camps. So she turns hidden caves into hospitals for those who know how to find her. Black, white, Cuban, Spanish—Rosa does her best for everyone. Yet who can heal a country so torn apart by war? Acclaimed poet Margarita Engle has created another breathtaking portrait of Cuba. The Surrender Tree is a 2009 Newbery Honor Book, the winner of the 2009 Pura Belpre Medal for Narrative and the 2009 Bank Street - Claudia Lewis Award, and a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

30 review for The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manybooks

    An evocative, emotional, but also often bravely optimistic verse-novel introduction to Cuban history and especially Cuba's rather violent and devastating struggle for independence, for freedom and sovereignty from Spain, Margarita Engle's The Surrender Tree (which won a Newbery Honour designation in 2009) not only features a lyrically beautiful text, the fact that the author shows the musings, the thoughts and actions of different players in the struggle for independence juxtaposed gives (or An evocative, emotional, but also often bravely optimistic verse-novel introduction to Cuban history and especially Cuba's rather violent and devastating struggle for independence, for freedom and sovereignty from Spain, Margarita Engle's The Surrender Tree (which won a Newbery Honour designation in 2009) not only features a lyrically beautiful text, the fact that the author shows the musings, the thoughts and actions of different players in the struggle for independence juxtaposed gives (or rather strives to give) a more balanced, less potentially prejudiced and partisan account. And while most readers' hearts will and also naturally should beat for and be with individuals like Rosa, José and Silvia, the escaping slaves, the peasants who are being displaced, also reading the musings of some of the main antagonists, of the aptly named Lieutenant Death and Spanish officials does give a more uniform and equal presentation, with much important historical background information (as one needs to be aware of and appreciate both sides of a given conflict, of a given historical period in order to understand and comprehend). The added bonus of an Author's Note personalises the featured, often tragic but always interesting and essential information presented with and by Engle's verses (as her great-grandparents were amongst the Cuban peasants ordered to leave their villages and lands and be forcefully relocated to some of the so-called reconcentration camps). Combined with an extensive historical note, a timeline, and appreciatively, also a list of references for further reading and research, I highly recommend The Surrender Tree to anyone, both young and old, who is interested in the history of Cuba and enjoys verse novels (although with the caveat that while The Surrender Tree is considered and marketed as children's literature, I would not necessarily consider it suitable and even all that easily understandable for readers below the age of at least ten or eleven; and there is no upper limit, as The Surrender Tree is basically also a book that I would strongly and very much recommend and glowingly suggest to interested adults). Now while The Surrender Tree as an entity, as a presented story is definitely worth a glowing full five star rating for me, the truth and fact that I did originally purchase this book not only to learn about the struggle for Cuban independence (and because I generally much enjoy Margarita Engle's verse novels) but also (and even primarily) to be able to practice my rather rusty Spanish (both the Spanish and the English versions are featured in their entirety in my, in this here edition of The Surrender Tree), that the poems of The Surrender Tree are NOT featured in a dual-language, in a parallel text format is really and truly a bit of a major and annoying disappointment for me (as I keep having to flip back and forth if or rather when I try to read the English in conjunction with and to the Spanish text, and it would be so much more user-friendly and less frustrating to have the English and the Spanish versions appear side by side and not one after the other). And while this annoyance does indeed in NO WAY make me not appreciate and not massively adore and even love The Surrender Tree as a verse novel, as a wonderful introduction to Cuba and Cuban history, the way the Spanish and English sections have been set up, have been featured is still frustrating enough for me to personally now only consider a high three star final rating (five stars for the contents, for the poems themselves, for the supplemental details, but only a grudging two star rating for how the Spanish and English components have been set-up, for the fact that The Surrender Tree is not what I had wanted and expected, is not really a true dual-language format by any stretch of either my imagination or my needs).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    THE SURRENDER TREE is a book that's completely outside of my normal wheel house. It's historical fiction, written in verse form, about wars I knew absolutely nothing about. But it was so powerful. Each page (for the most part) follows one of the following characters: - Rosa: a freed slave healer - Jose: Rosa's husband, healer, and rebel - Lieutenant Death: a slavehunter - Silvia: an orphan and healer-in-training And it follows the characters through the Ten Years' War, Little War, and War of THE SURRENDER TREE is a book that's completely outside of my normal wheel house. It's historical fiction, written in verse form, about wars I knew absolutely nothing about. But it was so powerful. Each page (for the most part) follows one of the following characters: - Rosa: a freed slave healer - Jose: Rosa's husband, healer, and rebel - Lieutenant Death: a slavehunter - Silvia: an orphan and healer-in-training And it follows the characters through the Ten Years' War, Little War, and War of Independence for Cuba. It's heartbreaking to see what Rosa, Jose, and the rebels go through for freedom and my soul broke repeatedly while following them on their journeys. What these rebels had to go through for their freedom will stay with me forever. Every line of every poem had impact. My book is flagged with lines that hit me so hard that I had to stop for a moment and make sure that their meaning wasn't lost on me for reading too fast or being too engrossed in the story. I'm going to read more about these wars and the history, and I am planning on re-reading this book once I'm more familiar with it all. I think it'll hit me even harder than it already has.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julie Christine

    Cuba's three wars for independence are conveyed in expressive free verse. A variety of voices, from an angel of mercy nurse and her husband to a merciless solider known at Lieutenant Death; slaves, resistance fighters and refugees--all tell of Cuba's tragic nineteenth century quest to be free of Spanish colonial rule. The first concentration camps were created in Cuba during this time, a legacy of tyranny and slavery that carried from the Caribbean to South Africa to Central and Eastern Europe Cuba's three wars for independence are conveyed in expressive free verse. A variety of voices, from an angel of mercy nurse and her husband to a merciless solider known at Lieutenant Death; slaves, resistance fighters and refugees--all tell of Cuba's tragic nineteenth century quest to be free of Spanish colonial rule. The first concentration camps were created in Cuba during this time, a legacy of tyranny and slavery that carried from the Caribbean to South Africa to Central and Eastern Europe to North Korea. This little-known history of a storied country reads almost like a hallucinatory dream in Engle's poetic, point-of-view-shifting account. It's a lovely tribute to her beloved homeland.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ivonne Rovira

    Cuban-American poet and author Margarita Engle is probably best know for her children’s books. And two children — the slave Rosa and the son of the slave hunter, nicknamed Lieutenant Death — begin this poetic account of the three wars of independence necessary for Cuba to free itself from Spanish rule. This book was a 2009 Newbery Medal Honor Book and won a prestigious Pura Belpré Award; however, this book is pretty harsh for any child younger than middle school — and maybe not even then — as it Cuban-American poet and author Margarita Engle is probably best know for her children’s books. And two children — the slave Rosa and the son of the slave hunter, nicknamed Lieutenant Death — begin this poetic account of the three wars of independence necessary for Cuba to free itself from Spanish rule. This book was a 2009 Newbery Medal Honor Book and won a prestigious Pura Belpré Award; however, this book is pretty harsh for any child younger than middle school — and maybe not even then — as it deals with the death, destruction and sacrifice of war. As a Cuban-American, I was incredibly moved by The Surrender Tree, about a Cuban war of liberation that was integrated by race and class, about Cubans who fought the Spaniards for the right to free their own slaves. I sometimes forget about my family’s great history. But you don’t have to be Cuban to enjoy this slender book with lines like these: The Little War? How can there be a little war? Are some deaths smaller than others, leaving mothers who weep a little less? (“The Little War” refers to the unsuccessful second attempt at independence from Spain which ended in September 1880. The final successful war lasted from 1895 to 1898.)

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sabrina Gale

    POETRY: I thought this book was fairly informative about a part of the Cuban struggle for freedom from Spain. I liked that it was told from the perspective of Rosa and Jose, both key characters in this time of Cuban history, but two people I had never head of before. The fact that it was poetry made the story a little hard for me to read, but that might be because I don't love poetry as much as I like reading regular text.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    It's good to finally get a chance to read the most infamous of the 2009 Newbery Honor books, but I'm confused by at least one plot gap. Lieutenant Death just sort of fades away without much explanation. With his Javert like intent upon killing Rosa, why did that disappear? Shouldn't we have gotten some conclusion there? Still, a great little book. And admittedly I probably wouldn't have read it had it not been for the big shiny award it garnered.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    WOW! What a powerful story for such a little book. Using sparse, beautiful poems to chronicle a period in Cuba's struggle for independence, this story depicts the beauty of compassion and dignity as well as the ugliness of greed and hate. Margarita has created a story that will stay with you long after you finish the last page. "Can it be true that freedom only exsists when it is a treasure, shared by all?"

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Really lovely and moving - there were some just *beautiful* lines of poetry and the verse form didn’t compete at all with the storyline. I did come away feeling like the story was a little incompletely resolved - but perhaps that vague dissatisfaction was deliberate, since the history doesn’t have a truly happy ending - in the end, freedom is still elusive.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anne, Unfinished Woman

    This a very compelling set of poems relating the three wars of independence of Cuba, as told through the eyes of Rosa, Jose and Lt. Death. Very fine way to learn about this seldom taught part of world history. I was deeply moved by the feelings of these brave, resilient characters and the frustration of their enemies.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    I'm not the biggest fan of novels in blank verse, but I do find this book to be useful. A three part history of 19th century Cuba, this book is told in brief poems, mainly through the voice of Rosa, a young natural healer, and Lt. Death, her nemesis, the slaveholder. The poems are occasionally gory (the slaveholder collects ears to count how many slaves he catches) and occasionally magical. They are all spare, blank verse. I'm not sure a teen would pick this up on their own, but it would make a I'm not the biggest fan of novels in blank verse, but I do find this book to be useful. A three part history of 19th century Cuba, this book is told in brief poems, mainly through the voice of Rosa, a young natural healer, and Lt. Death, her nemesis, the slaveholder. The poems are occasionally gory (the slaveholder collects ears to count how many slaves he catches) and occasionally magical. They are all spare, blank verse. I'm not sure a teen would pick this up on their own, but it would make a good curricular tie, or an introduction to Cuba's history.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shelby

    5 Stars This book was amazing and I really loved this book for so many reasons. When I was first reading this book I never knew what to except but this book was really good all the way around. I loved how it was where you could see yourself in the story. I have never read any Margarita Engle so I was not sure what to except and I have really never heard anything from anyone about her so I thought I would just give it a try anyways. I would definitely read this book again. I would recommend this 5 Stars This book was amazing and I really loved this book for so many reasons. When I was first reading this book I never knew what to except but this book was really good all the way around. I loved how it was where you could see yourself in the story. I have never read any Margarita Engle so I was not sure what to except and I have really never heard anything from anyone about her so I thought I would just give it a try anyways. I would definitely read this book again. I would recommend this book to anyone out there because I feel like everyone should read this book for sure.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Luann

    You wouldn't think you would be able to learn so much from so few words! But not only are many details here, the emotion and depth of these characters shines through. This is a great way to learn some history and read some beautiful poetry at the same time. This made me want to learn more about Cuba's history. It definitely deserves the awards it has received.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Simmons

    A historical novel in verse about three wars in Cuba around 1900s. Foreign involvement in domestic affairs is risky businesses! Just ask America and Spain. I’m so curious to learn more about this time period in Cuba.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    A story of hope and freedom.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Noninuna

    Written in verses, it tells a story about the struggle of Cuban during the wars of independence and how some of them played a big roles like Rosa, who is a nurse that always on the run and has to hide. She turns caves into hospital and people who had heard of her name come from near and far to get treatment.This is one of the best book I've read this year that told a true story from the history. I learned a lot from this small book. Highly recommend!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    The characters in this free verse poetry are actual historical figures during the three decades of war in Cuba from 1868-1898. I knew nothing of the Spanish occupation of Cuba and found this an interesting read to a bit of that history. Including one of the world's first concentration camps.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kristen (BeyondSecretPages)

    I don't care much about this book. The characters weren't realistic and it's really boring.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Anna Reid

    Rosa, a natural healer who doesn't charge for her services, helps victims of the war as Cuba fights for freedom in the 19th century. She is known as a natural healer by some and a "witch" by others. She marries Jose who joins her in natural healing as they both pass on knowledge to other free slaves like Silvia. Towards the end of the book, the fictional character, Silvia is introduced who has lost her whole family due to disease and the war. She learns from Rosa, and helps others in need. This Rosa, a natural healer who doesn't charge for her services, helps victims of the war as Cuba fights for freedom in the 19th century. She is known as a natural healer by some and a "witch" by others. She marries Jose who joins her in natural healing as they both pass on knowledge to other free slaves like Silvia. Towards the end of the book, the fictional character, Silvia is introduced who has lost her whole family due to disease and the war. She learns from Rosa, and helps others in need. This book provides both viewpoints of the war by adding the Lieutenant-General's narrative. However, toward the end of the book the Lieutenant's narrative slowly disappears. You never know what happened to him during the end of the war. The main theme in this story is hope. Rosa and all of the other members of the Cuban society are hoping that they will gain independence from Spain and finally be free at last. As they fight and survive one day at a time, hopelessness is another theme that the characters run into. Most characters do feel a sense of hopelessness throughout the story. Silvia, a young girl loses her whole family and is feeling very hopeless until she finally finds Rosa and begins to learn the ways of natural healing.The book is written in poem form with different viewpoints in each poem or page from each different character. I think this was a wise choice by the author because through the poems you get to feel how each different character is feeling at the moment in time during the war. You are able to follow each character through the different times in their lives and see how they grow and change. However, some readers may find this narrative difficult to follow. At the end of the book Margarita Engle includes a historical note and a list of references which validates the claims she made in her story. This book would be good for children in the grades 6-8. It is an easy read because of the poem format, but the topics covered do have some depth that may be hard to comprehend for younger readers. Engle, M. (2008). The surrender tree: Poems of Cuba's struggle for freedom. New York: Henry Holt and.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    Set in the last half of the nineteenth century (1850-1900), The Surrender Tree traces the struggle of Cuba's freedom and independence movements. Told through multiple narrators (Rosa, Silvia, Jose, etc.), the poems are strong, vivid, and powerful. They capture the gritty hardships of a life lived on the run, in hiding. These freedom fighters and these nurses have a price on their head. They were especially hunted down by slavehunters. When the slavehunter brings back runaways he captures, he Set in the last half of the nineteenth century (1850-1900), The Surrender Tree traces the struggle of Cuba's freedom and independence movements. Told through multiple narrators (Rosa, Silvia, Jose, etc.), the poems are strong, vivid, and powerful. They capture the gritty hardships of a life lived on the run, in hiding. These freedom fighters and these nurses have a price on their head. They were especially hunted down by slavehunters. When the slavehunter brings back runaways he captures, he receives seventeen silver pesos per cimarron, unless the runaway is dead. Four pesos is the price of an ear, shown as proof that the runaway slave died fighting, resisting capture. The sick and injured are brought to us, to the women, for healing. When a runaway is well again, he will either choose to go back to work in the coffee groves and sugarcane fields, or run away again secretly, silently alone. How much is life worth? How much is freedom worth? Cuba has fought three wars for independence, and still she is not free. Her people have been rounded up in reconcentration camps, where there is always too little food and too much illness. Rosa knows how to heal sickness with medicines made from wild plants. But with a price on her head for helping the rebels, Rosa dares not go out in the open. Instead, she turns hidden caves into hospitals for those who know how to find her. Black, white, Cuban, Spanish--Rosa does her best for everyone, even Lieutenant Death, who has sworn to kill her. Yet who can heal a country so torn apart by war? In this history in verse, acclaimed poet Margarita Engle has created a lyrical yet powerful portrait of Cuba. The wounded are sacred. We never leave them. When everyone else flees the battlefield, nurses are the ones who rush to carry the wounded to Rosa. I am learning how to stay far too busy for worries about dying. The Surrender Tree is well-written, powerful, and bold.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Aly Gutierrez

    • Book summary -This is a book of poems that follow the struggles of Rosa, a young girl who heals people with natural remedies. She was often viewed as a witch in the society. It was set during the nineteenth century and is a recollection of both Cubans and Spanish fighting over control of the island. Rosa writes about the runaway slaves and the slave hunters that go after them. Suddenly, Cuba is considered free and the slaves are freed. Though, the new found freedom did not last long. The • Book summary -This is a book of poems that follow the struggles of Rosa, a young girl who heals people with natural remedies. She was often viewed as a witch in the society. It was set during the nineteenth century and is a recollection of both Cubans and Spanish fighting over control of the island. Rosa writes about the runaway slaves and the slave hunters that go after them. Suddenly, Cuba is considered free and the slaves are freed. Though, the new found freedom did not last long. The Spanish did not agree with the freedom of slaves and fought against it. This caused the slaves to be forced to go into hiding. She eventually meets a man named Jose and falls in love. They fear Lieutenant Death, who has vowed to kill her and the rebels. This story follows the events slaves were put through, as well as Rosa as she tried to help the sick. America steps in at this point and takes control of Cuba. It is not exactly what the Cubans expected or hoped for, but now they have an opportunity to look towards the future. • Pura Belpre Award and Newbery Honor Book • Grade level, interest level, Lexile -This book is best for high schoolers. • Appropriate classroom use (subject area) -Read while teaching poetry to incorporate multiculturalism. As well as, during a history lesson, learning about America taking over Cuba. • Individual students who might benefit from reading -Students that enjoy poetry, history, or Cuban culture specifically would enjoy this book. • Small group use (literature circles) -After reading, have students analyze the events that occurred. What shocked you about the events that occurred with the slaves? • Whole class use (read aloud) -After reading each section, analyze the events that occurred and compare to American slave culture that occurred, or the Holocaust. • Related books in genre/subject or content area -“Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir” by Margarita Engle is another book related to the Cuban revolution. • Multimedia connections -Available on Kindle or as a paperback copy.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle, tells the story of Cuba’s struggle for independence in the second half of the 19th century, through poems. Each page or poem tells a portion of the story, from the perspective of the different characters. Rosa and José are freed slaves trying to avoid the reconcentration camps, the military leaders, and the former slave catchers, while using Rosa’s skills as a natural healer to help those around them. As Cuba’s wars The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle, tells the story of Cuba’s struggle for independence in the second half of the 19th century, through poems. Each page or poem tells a portion of the story, from the perspective of the different characters. Rosa and José are freed slaves trying to avoid the reconcentration camps, the military leaders, and the former slave catchers, while using Rosa’s skills as a natural healer to help those around them. As Cuba’s wars begin and end, the need for Rosa’s skills, and the dangers that await them, are never ending. I think that the poem that touched me the most was near the end of the book. Jose is speaking about how he will tell Rosa of the American defeat of the Spanish, in Cuba. He says, “If only I could tell her that we won. Instead, I just whisper a truth that seems impossible—Spain has been defeated, but Cuba is not victorious. The Americans have seized power. Once again, we are the subjects of a foreign tyrant (p154).” This book is appropriate for middle school and high school. It not only could be used within the context of American History, as it lays out America’s involvement in the Spanish American war, but would also provide an excellent example of free verse. I think that the only area of weakness I found was the constant switching of the characters on each page. The point of view was constantly changing. I think its strength is that the free verse is very clear, and easy to comprehend. It is more like being privy to the character’s private thoughts, rather than reading poems. Pura Belpré Medal Winner 2009 / Newbery Honor Book

  22. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    Historical Fiction; Novel in Verse This portrayal of Cuba's struggle for independence from Spain is told through alternating first-person poems. Characters both historical and composite include Rosa, a nurse who heals rebels and Spaniards alike using cures from nature; Jose, her husband and nurse; Lieutenant Death, a slave hunter; Captain-General Weyler of the Spanish military; and Silvia, a young girl who aspires to be a nurse. Engle weaves Spanish and English together to create terrible and Historical Fiction; Novel in Verse This portrayal of Cuba's struggle for independence from Spain is told through alternating first-person poems. Characters both historical and composite include Rosa, a nurse who heals rebels and Spaniards alike using cures from nature; Jose, her husband and nurse; Lieutenant Death, a slave hunter; Captain-General Weyler of the Spanish military; and Silvia, a young girl who aspires to be a nurse. Engle weaves Spanish and English together to create terrible and beautiful images of Cuba's history, culture and setting. Occasional translations that immediately follow Spanish words may be distracting to the bilingual reader, but in the poetic form, it seems to work. The impression that remains is one of hope, despair, and freedom for all. Marginalized cultural groups from history, including Native Americans, Irish, Canary Islanders, and African Americans appear in this novel, a testament to the truth that the enslavement of a few is the enslavement of us all. Cuba's dubious position in history as site of the first concentration camps is also important. I felt that one shortcoming of this book was the lack of complexity of the character, Lieutenant Death. His single-minded vendetta against Rosa contrasts the depth of the rest of the characters. Perhaps Lieutenant Death's character was meant to symbolize hate itself. Because of some the horrific images, I would recommend this novel for readers 7th grade through adult.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This book was historically enlightening and captivating due to Engle's amazing use of language. The book is written in prose form and covers Cuba's struggle for freedom from 1850 to 1899. At first glance, I thought that the book might be difficult to understand since it was written in poem form; however, it was surprisingly fluid and so interesting that I could not put the book down. Each poem is told by a different character, hence a different perspective. Rosa is the main character and she is This book was historically enlightening and captivating due to Engle's amazing use of language. The book is written in prose form and covers Cuba's struggle for freedom from 1850 to 1899. At first glance, I thought that the book might be difficult to understand since it was written in poem form; however, it was surprisingly fluid and so interesting that I could not put the book down. Each poem is told by a different character, hence a different perspective. Rosa is the main character and she is a healer who takes care of the wounded civilians, Cuban soldiers and Spanish soldiers - yes, she even cares for the enemy. She has a huge heart and uses her gift of healing with plants and nature to help as many people as she can. Unfortunately for Rosa, she is being hunted by a man she names Lieutenant Death. She and her husband, Jose have to move their makeshift hospitals frequently to escape him. They are being protected by the Cuban government; however, Lt. Death seems as though he wouldn't stop at anything. The book illustrates Cuba's long and arduous journey to freedom; however, they seem to never win as the United States eventually takes control over Cuba. This is a MUST READ!!! Cuba's struggle for independence is not a topic widely covered in history classes - this book contains much needed historical knowledge. The book also provides a great example of a selfless heroine - Rosa!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Beverly Kennett

    I read along with this story while listening to the CD. The book tells a fictional dramatization of historical figures struggling during the years of three wars for Cuba's independence from Spain. The story tracks Rosa's life. The book begins by describing how she fled to the woods to hide from soldiers and was taught how to use plants and nursing techniques to heal the wounded and sick while hiding the ill from soldiers, too. Then the story jumps a few years when Rosa is grown, and she marries I read along with this story while listening to the CD. The book tells a fictional dramatization of historical figures struggling during the years of three wars for Cuba's independence from Spain. The story tracks Rosa's life. The book begins by describing how she fled to the woods to hide from soldiers and was taught how to use plants and nursing techniques to heal the wounded and sick while hiding the ill from soldiers, too. Then the story jumps a few years when Rosa is grown, and she marries a man who joins her in her nursing quest. Later, they take in a young girl who has lost all of her family and escaped from a concentration camp. Rosa and her husband, Jose, teach the girl to heal, all while being sought out by a soldier who is resolved to find and kill Rosa, the healing witch, so she cannot help the rebels anymore. Each character narrating was read by it's own actor. I felt that the different voices added to the experience of this book. The subject matter was new information for me and I thought the charaters were well developed. Their motivations are established and confirmed by their actions. The beginning of this book seemed slow, but it did pick up and I was invested in finding out how the characters would react in the troubling years described in the story. This would be a good book to teach history from as well as to use for a reader's theater, since it is written as a complilation of monologues.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Angela Bailey

    Title / Author / Publication Date: The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom. / Margarita Engle. / 2008. Genre: Young Adult Historical Nonfiction. Format: Book (in verse) - print. 169 pages. Plot summary: "Poems that explore Cuba's fight for independence follow Rosa, a nurse who turns hidden caves into hospitals for those who know how to find her, and who does her best to help everyone, with no regard to race or nationality" (NoveList). Considerations or precautions for readers Title / Author / Publication Date:  The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom. / Margarita Engle. / 2008. Genre: Young Adult Historical Nonfiction. Format: Book (in verse) - print. 169 pages. Plot summary: "Poems that explore Cuba's fight for independence follow Rosa, a nurse who turns hidden caves into hospitals for those who know how to find her, and who does her best to help everyone, with no regard to race or nationality" (NoveList). Considerations or precautions for readers advisory:  war, Cuba, struggle for independence, healers, slavery, slave hunters, murder Review citation: "Though the narrative feels somewhat repetitive in its first third, one comes to realize it is merely symbolic of the unending cycle of war and the necessity for Rosa and other freed slaves to flee domesticity each time a new conflict begins. Aside from its considerable stand-alone merit, this book, when paired with Engle's The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano (Holt, 2006), delivers endless possibilities for discussion about poetry, colonialism, slavery, and American foreign policy" (Jill Heritage Maza in School Library Journal). Section source used to find the material:  2009 Newberry Honor Book Recommended age: Ages 13 to 18.

  26. 5 out of 5

    529_Gary

    This is an interesting historical fiction book about Cuba. The three main characters are: Rosa, Jose, and Lieutenant Death. Rosa and Jose help the wounded during several of the wars that Cubans had fought in. Rosa is a nurse who uses natural remedies to help cure the sick and injured. Rosa doesn't discriminated when it comes to helping people. She helps all people. Jose is her husband and they work together to help those in need. They both are constantly on the move and hiding. Lieutenant Death This is an interesting historical fiction book about Cuba. The three main characters are: Rosa, Jose, and Lieutenant Death. Rosa and Jose help the wounded during several of the wars that Cubans had fought in. Rosa is a nurse who uses natural remedies to help cure the sick and injured. Rosa doesn't discriminated when it comes to helping people. She helps all people. Jose is her husband and they work together to help those in need. They both are constantly on the move and hiding. Lieutenant Death is a sinister character who is in constant search of Rosa and her husband. He wants to kill her because she helps those that he is either trying to capture or fighting against. This book gives a good look into how things were during war times in Cuba. This is the second book that I've read by Margarita Engle and I have enjoyed both. This reminds me of the same struggles that Haiti has gone through.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This Newbery Honor Book, and winner of the Pura Belpre Medal by Margarita Engle is the account of Cuba's war for independence. The Surrender Tree takes you through the fight in verse stated by the characters living through it. Rosa, the healer who is hunted by Lieutenant Death, and her husband Jose along with their converted friend, secretly heal the slaves that flee and hide from the soldiers of Spain. The book dramatically takes you through the wars and perils of the refugees' struggle for This Newbery Honor Book, and winner of the Pura Belpre Medal by Margarita Engle is the account of Cuba's war for independence. The Surrender Tree takes you through the fight in verse stated by the characters living through it. Rosa, the healer who is hunted by Lieutenant Death, and her husband Jose along with their converted friend, secretly heal the slaves that flee and hide from the soldiers of Spain. The book dramatically takes you through the wars and perils of the refugees' struggle for independence in explicit detail: "...my father chops each body into four pieces, and locks each piece in a cage, and hangs the four cages on four branches of the same tree. That way, my father tells me, the other slaves will be afraid to kill themselves." Because of its graphic content, I would recommend this book for Grades 8-12. Many historical readers will appreciate it for Margarita Engle's Historical Notes and Chronology of events at the end of the book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I picked this book up based on a recommendation from a fellow librarian, and it did not disappoint. I was really impressed with the poetry of this short history of the Cuban Civil Wars, which started in 1868 and went through 1899, though the actual start of the book was a little bit before that in 1850/51. The wars are seen through the eyes of a slave nurse called Rosa and later by her husband Jose, as well as through the eyes of a slave hunter named Lieutenant Death, Captain General Weyler of I picked this book up based on a recommendation from a fellow librarian, and it did not disappoint. I was really impressed with the poetry of this short history of the Cuban Civil Wars, which started in 1868 and went through 1899, though the actual start of the book was a little bit before that in 1850/51. The wars are seen through the eyes of a slave nurse called Rosa and later by her husband Jose, as well as through the eyes of a slave hunter named Lieutenant Death, Captain General Weyler of the Spanish army and a young girl named Silvia. The poetry is beautifully written and really brings you into the time period, something I knew nothing about. I vaguely remember studying about the Spanish-American War in school, but for some reason I always thought it was in Panama or Mexico. I had no idea that America had requested to buy the island of Cuba, and had eventually only set the island free after occupation if they were allowed to set up the naval base of Guantanamo.

  29. 5 out of 5

    L- Lisa

    This Newberry Honor Book is a must read for insight into the history of Cuba's tragic struggles for freedom. The books' use of prose invites the reader to feel the pain of Rosa, the nurse and natural healer of Cubans and all the others from the Spanish army injured and sick during this long war. Her healing efforts were not selective as she worked endlessly to help. Cuba's reconcentration camps were the first in history and where Cubans died in hideous conditions. Engle organizes the book into This Newberry Honor Book is a must read for insight into the history of Cuba's tragic struggles for freedom. The books' use of prose invites the reader to feel the pain of Rosa, the nurse and natural healer of Cubans and all the others from the Spanish army injured and sick during this long war. Her healing efforts were not selective as she worked endlessly to help. Cuba's reconcentration camps were the first in history and where Cubans died in hideous conditions. Engle organizes the book into time periods as the wars progress, allowing the reader ease in following. This book would work well in grade 8-12, using comparative studies with holocaust literature. It is winner of the Americas Award and ALA Best Book for Young Adults.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    Newberry Honor 2009 Pura Belpre Award 2009 This story is the story of Cuba’s struggle for freedom during three wars in 1850-1900. It is told from the viewpoint of both the rebels and those hunting them down. Rosa learned healing methods young and together with her husband, Jose, heals the hurt and sick, even the enemy. Lieutenant Death tells of his hunt for Rosa and trying to kill her. He even gets injured to learn how she works, but it doesn’t help. The various points of view made the story Newberry Honor 2009 Pura Belpre Award 2009 This story is the story of Cuba’s struggle for freedom during three wars in 1850-1900. It is told from the viewpoint of both the rebels and those hunting them down. Rosa learned healing methods young and together with her husband, Jose, heals the hurt and sick, even the enemy. Lieutenant Death tells of his hunt for Rosa and trying to kill her. He even gets injured to learn how she works, but it doesn’t help. The various points of view made the story interesting because both sides were shown. This book is appropriate for high school students. It would be good to show Cuba’s struggle and maybe in tandem with an English class to study free verse.

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