Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra finds refuge from his difficult childhood by imagining the adventures of a brave but clumsy knight.
This fictionalized first-person biography in verse of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra follows the early years of the child who grows up to pen Don Quixote, the first modern novel. The son of a gambling, vagabond barber-surgeon, Miguel looks to his own imagination for an escape from his family’s troubles and finds comfort in his colorful daydreams. At a time when access to books is limited and imaginative books are considered evil, Miguel is inspired by storytellers and wandering actors who perform during festivals. He longs to tell stories of his own. When Miguel is nineteen, four of his poems are published, launching the career of one of the greatest writers in the Spanish language.
Award-winning author Margarita Engle’s distinctive picture book depiction of the childhood of the father of the modern novel, told in a series of free verse poems, is enhanced by Raúl Colón’s stunning illustrations. Backmatter includes a note from both the author and illustrator as well as additional information on Cervantes and his novel Don Quixote.
★ “Engle’s poems are lyrical yet direct… Colón’s pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations (inspired by the prints of Gustav Doré) accompany every poem bringing Engle’s words into sharp focus…. An intriguing, lightly fictionalized introduction to an iconic author, this will encourage readers to learn more about the first modern novel.” ―Booklist, STARRED REVIEW
★ “Beautiful and engaging, this book will inspire readers to find out more.” ―Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
★ “Colón’s pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations are paired perfectly with the text and the subject…This expressive picture book biography presents a solid argument for why Cervantes should be revered as an important figure in the Western canon. A gorgeous and well-crafted work for all nonfiction collections.” ―School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
★ “Margarita Engle (The Wild Book) and Raúl Colón (Draw!) combine their formidable strengths to create Miguel’s First Knight, an inspiring story of tenacious hope and indelible grit….what shines forth is the power of imagination to transcend hardship and injustice. As portals to creativity, Engle and Colón prove how ‘[s]ome daydreams really do/ come true.’” ―Shelf Awareness, STARRED REVIEW
“Poems about contemporaneous events—the plague, book burning—add depth to Engle’s representation of the era. Colón’s noble portraits, done in pen, ink, and watercolor, recall the work of classic popularizers such as N.C. Wyeth and the D’Aulaires. Even readers who don’t progress to Cervantes’s own work will come away with an indelible sense of the story and its creator.” —Publishers Weekly
Cybils (Finalist, Poetry) ―Cybils, 2017
Best Children’s Books of the Year ―Bank Street College of Education, 2018
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People ―National Council for the Social Studies/Children’s Book Council, 2018
Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts ―Children’s Literature Assembly, NCTE
International Latino Book Awards (Finalist, Best Children’s Nonfiction Picture Book) ―Latino Book & Family Festival, Latino Literacy Now, 2018
Land of Enchantment Book Awards (Nominee, Grades 3-5) ―New Mexico Library Association, New Mexico Council of ILA, 2020-2021
F&P: U, Gr 5, Genre HF
Themes: Don Quixote, History, Imagination, Miguel de Cervantes, Poetry
BISAC 1: JUV004010 JUVENILE FICTION / Biographical / Europe
BISAC 2: JUV057000 JUVENILE FICTION / Stories in Verse
BISAC 3: JUV016040 JUVENILE FICTION / Historical / Europe