March 23: Today's post provided by Margarita Engle
In 1851, Bremer had already written travel books about the daily lives of Swedish women. She chose Cuba as a place where North and South America meet, a land where she could study the clash of cultures. Throughout her journey, she kept a diary and a sketchbook, as well as writing letters to her sister, and to members of Scandinavian royalty.
Fredrika Bremer was far ahead of her time. Her books helped gain partial voting rights for Swedish women as early as the 1860s, and although she was unable to alter slavery in Cuba, she did inform European readers about the suffering that accompanied cultivation of the sugar they stirred into their tea. Her courage to travel, and her courage to write, are remarkable not only in the context of her own time, but in any historical setting. Fredrika Bremer is a role model for anyone who longs to change the world with words.
Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American author of The Surrender Tree, which received many awards, including the first Newbery Honor every awarded to any Latino/a. The Poet Slave of Cuba received the Pura Belpré Medal, Américas Award, and an International Reading Association Award. Tropical Secrets received the Sydney Taylor Award. The Firefly Letters is a Pura Belpré Honor Book, and an Amelia Bloomer Top Ten Book. Hurricane Dancers is a Pura Belpré Honor Book. Engle’s first picture book, Summer Birds, the Butterflies of Maria Merian, is an Amelia Bloomer Book, and a Kirkus Best Book for Children. Her most recent novel in verse is The Wild Book (Harcourt, 2012). She lives in northern California, where she enjoys helping her husband with his volunteer work for wilderness search and rescue dog training programs. Her next picture book, When You Wander (Holt, 2013), is about search and rescue dogs.