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Novels in Verse Featuring Resilient Girls

19 Dec

I have been known to encourage kids to read novels in verse by promoting the fact that they look like a lot of reading, but really aren’t. It is true, but that’s not really why I want kids to read them. I just simply love language and story. Verse novels indulge both of these loves.

Here are two new ones, worthy of your time.

Margarita Engle has made a career writing novels in verse. A few weeks ago I wrote about Mountain Dog. In The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist, Engle returns to writing historical novels in verse that are set in Cuba.


Banned books and rebel poets. That alone could interest me, but Engle’s verse is beautiful and quotable in places. She opens the book with

Books are door-shaped


carrying me

across oceans

and centuries,

helping me feel

less alone.

Oh, my bookish friends, who has not felt this way? This is the story of Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, nicknamed Tula, who opposed slavery in Cuba in the nineteenth century by veiling her work in metaphor. A beautiful book about a stung female character.

Serafina’s Promise,  by Ann E. Burg, also features a female main character.


Living in abject poverty in Haiti, 11 year old Serafina makes a secret promise to her deceased little brother Pierre that she will someday go to school and become a healer so that she can save little babies like him.But Serafina doesn’t go to school because it is too expensive.Challenged by poverty, flood, earthquake and Serafina remains undaunted.The details about life in Haiti create a clear picture of a world far removed from ours.

Both of these books feature resilient girls who set out to meet their goal in spite of the obstacles in their way.

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