June 1, 2022
The Cuban American author Margarita Engle explores what it’s like to be an outsider in her new middle-grade novel Singing with Elephants.
Viking Books for Young Readers
Oriol, her 11-year-old Cuban-born protagonist, leaves the island nation as her family makes the move to Santa Barbara, Calif. She’s learning English. Her playmates are the animals at her parents’ veterinary clinic. When she befriends the diplomat Gabriela Mistral, who also happens to be the real-life winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, her world opens up even more.
Engle tells Morning Edition she wanted to imagine how it would feel for a child to live near an accomplished poet and to wonder if she could write poetry too. Singing with Elephants is told in verse.