October 11, 2017

Forest World by Margarita Engle

Published Date : August 29, 2017
Publisher : Atheneum Books For Young Readers
Genre : J Fiction / Poetry


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A middle grade novel in verse that tells the story of a Cuban-American boy who visits his family’s village in Cuba for the first time—and meets a sister he didn’t know he had.

Edver isn’t happy about being shipped off to Cuba to visit the father he barely knows. The island is a place that no one in Miami ever mentions without a sigh, but travel laws have suddenly changed, and now it’s a lot easier for divided families to be reunited. Technology in Cuba hasn’t caught up with the times, though, and Edver is expecting a long, boring summer.

He was NOT expecting to meet a sister he didn’t know he had. Luza is a year older and excited to see her little brother, until she realizes what a spoiled American he is. Looking for something—anything—they might have in common, the siblings sneak onto the Internet, despite it being forbidden in Cuba, and make up a fake butterfly. Maybe now their cryptozoologist mother will come to visit. But their message is intercepted by a dangerous poacher, and suddenly much more than their family is at stake. Edver and Luza have to find a way to overcome their differences to save the Cuban jungle that they both have grown to love.


Writing a historical novel in verse feels like time travel, a dreamlike blend of imagination and reality. It is an exploration. It is also a chance to communicate with the future, through young readers.
I love to write about young people who made hopeful choices in situations that seemed hopeless. My own hope is that tales of courage and compassion will ring true for youthful readers as they make their own difficult decisions in modern times.
My connection to the history of Cuba is personal. My American father traveled to the island after seeing National Geographic pictures of my Cuban mother’s hometown, Trinidad. Even though they did not speak the same language, they fell in love and got married. I was born and raised in my father’s hometown of Los Angeles, California, but we spent summers in Cuba, where I developed a deep bond with my extended family. I also developed a lifelong passion for tropical nature, which led me to study agronomy and botany, along with creative writing.

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