Forest World

Forest World

by Margarita Engle


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From Young People’s Poet Laureate and award-winning author Margarita Engle comes a lively 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. Why would he want to visit a place that no one in Miami ever mentions without a sigh? Yet now that travel laws have changed and it’s a lot easier for divided families to be reunited, his mom thinks it's time for some father-son bonding.

Edver doesn’t know what this summer has in store, but he’s definitely expecting to meet a sister he didn’t know existed! Luza is a year older and excited to see her little brother, until she realizes how different their lives have been. Looking for anything they might have in common, they sneak onto the internet—and accidentally catch the interest of a dangerous wildlife poacher. Edver has fought plenty of villains in video games. Now, to save the Cuban jungle they love, he and Luza are going to have to find a way to conquer a real villain!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481490580
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 08/28/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 446,021
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Margarita Engle was the 2017­–2019 national Young People’s Poet Laureate, and received the 2019 NSK Neustadt Prize. She is the Cuban-American author of many verse novels, including Soaring Earth; With a Star in My Hand; The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor winner; and The Lightning Dreamer, a PEN Literary Award for Young Adult Literature winner. Her verse memoir, Enchanted Air, received the Pura Belpré Award, a Walter Dean Myers Award Honor, and was a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, among others. Her picture book Drum Dream Girl received the Charlotte Zolotow Award. Margarita was born in Los Angeles, but developed a deep attachment to her mother’s homeland during childhood summers with relatives. She continues to visit Cuba as often as she can. Visit her at

Read an Excerpt

Forest World

Miami, Florida, USA

I thought I was prepared

for any emergency. Fires, floods,

hurricanes, rogue gunmen, bombs,

and worse—we’ve covered them all,

in scary student emergency training drills.

We’ve shut down the school,

painted our faces with fake blood,

and practiced carrying one another

to an imaginary helicopter, moaning

and screaming with almost-real fear

as we pretended to survive crazy


Nowhere in all that madness

did I ever imagine being sent away

by Mom, to meet my long-lost dad

in the remote forest where I was born

on an island no one in Miami

ever mentions without sighs,

smiles, curses, or tears . . .

but travel laws have suddenly changed,

the Cold War is over, and now it’s a lot easier

for divided half-island, half-mainland

Cuban American families

to be reunited.

Mom is so weirdly thrilled,

it seems suspicious.

From the moment she announced

that she was sending me away to meet Dad,

I could tell how relieved she felt to be getting

a relaxing break from her wild child,

the troublemaker—me.

If she would listen, I would argue

that it’s not my fault a racing bicycle

got in my way while I was playing a game

on my phone and skateboarding at the same time.

That’s what games are for—entertainment, right?

Escape, so that all those minutes spent gliding

home from school aren’t so shameful.

As long as I stare into a private screen,

no one who sees me


I’m alone.

Tap, zap, swipe,

the phone makes me look as busy

as someone with plenty of friends,

a kid who’s good at sports

instead of science.

In that way, I’m just like Mom, who hardly ever

looks up from her laptop on weekends.

She just keeps working like a maniac,

trying to rediscover lost species.

She’s a cryptozoologist, a scientist who searches

for hidden creatures, both the legendary ones

like Bigfoot, and others that no one ever sees

anymore, simply because they’re so rare

and shy, hiding while terrorized by hunters,

loggers, and poachers who sell their stuffed

or pinned parts to collectors.


But what if there’s more?

What if Mom’s real reason for peering

into her secret online world

is flirting to meet weird guys

who might not even be

the handsome heroes

shown in their photos . . . ?

What if she’s dating,

and that’s why she needs

to get rid of me, so she can go out

with creeps

while I’m away?

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