Miguel’s Brave Knight: Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quixote

Margarita Engle, illus. by Raúl Colón. Peachtree, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56145-856-1
Engle’s free-verse biography of Miguel Cervantes, the creator of Don Quixote, portrays the life of a boy in 16th-century Spain. The son of a compulsive gambler beset by debt collectors (“They even took our beds and plates./ Where will we sleep?/ How will we eat?”), Miguel imagines for himself a gallant savior, a theme Engle (Lion Island) returns to repeatedly: “A tale about a brave knight/ who will ride out on/ a strong horse/ and right/ all the wrongs/ of this confusing/ world.” Miguel’s father works as a barber until his demons get the better of him and he gambles everything away again. Poems about contemporaneous events—the plague, book burning—add depth to Engle’s representation of the era. Colón’s noble portraits, done in pen, ink, and watercolor, recall the work of classic popularizers such as N.C. Wyeth and the D’Aulaires. Even readers who don’t progress to Cervantes’s own work will come away with an indelible sense of the story and its creator. Author’s notes provide background material. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. Illustrator’s agency: Morgan Gaynin. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2017
Release date: 10/01/2017
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