The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano

Front Cover
Macmillan, Apr 4, 2006 - Juvenile Nonfiction - 183 pages
46 Reviews

A lyrical biography of a Cuban slave who escaped to become a celebrated poet.

Born into the household of a wealthy slave owner in Cuba in 1797, Juan Francisco Manzano spent his early years by the side of a woman who made him call her Mama, even though he had a mama of his own. Denied an education, young Juan still showed an exceptional talent for poetry. His verses reflect the beauty of his world, but they also expose its hideous cruelty.

Powerful, haunting poems and breathtaking illustrations create a portrait of a life in which even the pain of slavery could not extinguish the capacity for hope.

The Poet Slave of Cuba is the winner of the 2008 Pura Belpre Medal for Narrative and a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Latino Interest.


What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Completely written in prose, awesome read. - Goodreads
It was easy to read and hard to put down. - Goodreads
The illustrations were also quite good. - Goodreads
... told in prose, very inspiring. - Goodreads
includes some semi-creepy pictures. - Goodreads

Review: The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano

User Review  - Jami - Goodreads

This was an interesting biography. I had never heard of the Poet Slave of Cuba before, so this was brand new to me. The author presented his life story in verse, told through various people, which was a unique way to present the information. The illustrations were also quite good. Read full review

Review: The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano

User Review  - Hal - Goodreads

I read "The Poet Slave of Cuba" -- all in ONE sitting! Needless to say, I loved it! Really wonderful book. Incredible story. The whole thing is in verse: amazing! -- HAL Read full review

Selected pages

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2006)

Margarita Engle is a Cuban American poet, novelist, and journalist whose work has been published in many countries. She is the author of young adult nonfiction books and novels in verse including The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor Book, Hurricane Dancers, The Firefly Letters, and Tropical Secrets. She lives in northern California.

Sean Qualls is the illustrator of The Baby on the Way and Powerful Words. He lives with his wife and their son in Brooklyn, New York.

Bibliographic information