Hurricane Dancers – the first Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck
by Margarita Engle
Set in 1510, readers of Hurricane Dancers meet pirate Captain Bernardino de Talavera, a ruined conquistador who has worked the native Indians on his land to death. To escape debtors prison he steals a ship, takes some hostages, and becomes the first pirate of the Caribbean. One of those hostages, Alonso de Ojeda, has been governor of Venezuela and is known for selling the native people for profit. Another captive is Quebrado. He claims a Taino mother and Spanish father and although this makes him an outcast, it gives him the ability to communicate in two languages.
Quebrado has been enslaved and traded from ship to ship for as long as he can remember. Called El Quebrado, the boy of broken dreams, by the sailors he toils under – Quebrado takes care of all things on the pirate ship until it is caught in a hurricane and capsized. Quebrado is freed. He is washed onto Cuba, the only free island left in the Caribbean. Helped by islanders, Quebrado thinks he will find a new way of life until Talavera and Ojeda make their way to the same village.
Now the question is, what will Quebrado do? Will he escape? Will he stay? Will he go off on his own?
Beautifully written in verse this piece of historical fiction offers an unusual view of life in early 16th century Cuba.