Cuba: Marti’s Song for Freedom

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Hola amigos!

I am excited to share my third and final book review for Multicultural Children's Book Day (MCBD) for this year! If you missed my first two book reviews, you can click on the following book names to read them: The Different Pond and Take a Photo of Me, James VanDerZee.

Last year, I reviewed three wonderful diverse books for MCBD, a non-profit organization. MCBD began five years ago by two kind ladies who love reading and sharing the world with others. Together, they created a day that celebrated books from around the world for kids, families and teachers! Now, their national event helps spread awareness for learning of different cultures and people across the globe. Talk about some amazing stuff!

I had so much fun writing the book reviews last year! I learned a lot about other countries in Asia near my home, like Korea, Cambodia and the Philippines. I have a special quote on my website by the great Maya Angelou that I want to share with you:

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”

Through the power of reading and diverse books, we can all learn so much about ourselves and others. Then we can connect on a deeper level and help one another.

I love traveling the world and sharing my adventures with kids and families like you. So being part of this special movement fills me with joy! (Did you like the pun I added in there?)

Today, we are taking a journey to the country of Cuba, officially known as The Republic of Cuba. Cuba is the largest island of the Caribbean and consists of one large island and several small ones. Cuba is about 11,000 miles from my home in West Sumatra. Cuba is located southeast of the United States of America.

Photo By Cacahuate [CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By TUBS [CC BY-SA 3.0] or [GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Before I opened up the colorful book I am reviewing today, Marti’s Song for Freedom, I noticed that the title is also written in a Spanish:  Martí y sus versos por la libertad. I remember learning some Spanish when I traveled to Chile last year, so I was excited to see if I could recognize any of the words in the story.  It is always great to learn a different language. Not only will you get to speak to and understand more people, but you also get to learn more about the world and different cultures. You can also help other people who may not speak more than one language. This book is written by Emma Otheguy, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal and published by Lee & Low Books  (silver sponsor this year).

Photo By Joy Sun Bear, Inc.

The book is full of colorful and detailed illustrations that really help you feel the story. This book is a biography, which means that it is about a true person that once lived. Marti’s Song for Freedom is the story of José Martí, a young boy that grew up in the beautiful countryside of Cuba. José loved his home island of Cuba. I can definitely relate to that! He loved chasing the rivers, hearing the animals and bowing to the palmas reales. The palmas reales are the tall grand royal palm trees that shaded his path as he rode through the countryside on his horse. The book is written in verse, which is like a poem or written in rhyme. I love how each page has the words written in English on the left side and in Spanish on the right side. While I was reading, I would try to find the same words in both languages to see how they are written differently. Like how the English word “liberty” is “libertad” in Spanish.


Photo Above by Joy Sun Bear, Inc.

José was very caring and always wanted people to be treated equally. So when he saw that some people where being forced to work for others without being paid, he knew it was wrong. He thought Cuba was special because it was made up of different types of people. He was inspired by Abraham Lincoln and fighting for freedom. But sadly, his home was taken over by Spain, and they didn’t always see things the same way José did. They didn’t respect diversity the way he and other Cubans did. That is when he decided he needed to do something to make a difference! He started writing about his beliefs that Cuba should be free in newspapers. He passed out pamphlets around town to stand up for what he believed in. Even though Spain didn’t like this, José did what he felt was right in his heart. I really admire José!

Unfortunately, the government ordered him to leave his home of Cuba at 17 years of age. Even though that was very hard for Jose, to leave his home land and family, he didn’t stop fighting for what he believed in. He kept sharing his belief that Cuba should be free with people all over the world. He even gave speeches and joined with others who believed in liberty and equality. He was truly a fighter for freedom, wow!

As José Martí got older, he kept fighting for his country and the freedom of its people and one day he was able to go back and serve in the military to help. In the end, he truly did help Cuba find freedom and was a hero to all! Such an inspiring man!

The author shares that José Martí’s story is special to her because her parents read his children's poetry to her when she was young. Now she gets to share Jose’s story with the world through her writing. How wonderful!

Here is a great video via StoryMakers where the author shares more about José Martí and her book. It is jam packed with lots to learn about José Martí’s life and influence on Cuba and the United States.

Note to parents and educators:
This book has a powerful message with some mature content that may be hard for younger kids to understand. So I definitely recommend this book for older elementary school and/or middle school aged kids.

I had a great time learning about José Martí and all he did to help Cuba and the world! Hope you enjoyed all my books reviews for Multicultural Children's Book Day 2018. 

Adiós amigos and thanks for reading!!

-Joy Sun Bear

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2018 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.  

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board.

2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors

HONORARY: Children’s Book Council, Junior Library Guild

PLATINUM:Scholastic Book Clubs

GOLD:Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Loving Lion Books, Second Story Press, Star Bright Books, Worldwide Buddies

SILVER:Capstone Publishing, Author Charlotte Riggle, Child’s Play USA, KidLit TV, Pack-n-Go Girls, Plum Street Press

BRONZE: Barefoot Books, Carole P. Roman, Charlesbridge Publishing, Dr. Crystal Bowe, Gokul! World, Green Kids Club, Gwen Jackson, Jacqueline Woodson, Juan J. Guerra, Language Lizard, Lee & Low Books, RhymeTime Storybooks, Sanya Whittaker Gragg, TimTimTom Books, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Wisdom Tales Press

2018 Author Sponsors

Honorary Author Sponsors: Author/Illustrator Aram Kim and Author/Illustrator Juana Medina

Author Janet Balletta, Author Susan Bernardo,  Author Carmen Bernier-Grand, Author Tasheba Berry-McLaren and Space2Launch, Bollywood Groove Books, Author Anne Broyles,  Author Kathleen Burkinshaw, Author Eugenia Chu, Author Lesa Cline-Ransome, Author Medeia Cohan and Shade 7 Publishing, Desi Babies, Author Dani Dixon and Tumble Creek Press, Author Judy Dodge Cummings, Author D.G. Driver, Author Nicole Fenner and Sister Girl Publishing, Debbi Michiko Florence, Author Josh Funk, Author Maria Gianferrari, Author Daphnie Glenn, Globe Smart Kids, Author Kimberly Gordon Biddle, Author Quentin Holmes, Author Esther Iverem, Jennifer Joseph: Alphabet Oddities, Author Kizzie Jones, Author Faith L Justice , Author P.J. LaRue and, Author Karen Leggett Abouraya, Author Sylvia Liu, Author Sherri Maret, Author Melissa Martin Ph.D., Author Lesli Mitchell, Pinky Mukhi and We Are One, Author Miranda Paul, Author Carlotta Penn, Real Dads Read, Greg Ransom, Author Sandra L. Richards, RealMVPKids Author Andrea Scott, Alva Sachs and Three Wishes Publishing, Shelly Bean the Sports Queen,  Author Sarah Stevenson, Author Gayle H. Swift Author Elsa Takaoka, Author Christine Taylor-Butler, Nicholette Thomas and  MFL Publishing  Author Andrea Y. Wang, Author Jane Whittingham  Author Natasha Yim

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

TWITTER PARTY Sponsored by Scholastic Book Clubs: MCBD’s super-popular (and crazy-fun) annual Twitter Party will be held 1/27/18 at 9:00pm.

Join the conversation and win one of 12-5 book bundles and one Grand Prize Book Bundle (12 books) that will be given away at the party!

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:

Free Empathy Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators:

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Author: joysunbear

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