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Miguel's Brave Knight: Young Cervantes and His Dream of Don Quixote

Last updated Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Author: Margarita Engle
Illustrator: Raúl Colón
Date of Publication: 2017
ISBN: 1561458562
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: May 2018

Synopsis: 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. 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.

Note to readers:
•  The inside cover flap has a brief bio of Miguel Cervantes.
•  Story is told in a collection of poems.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Have you heard of Don Quixote?
•  Do you know what a knight is?
•  Do you know any brave people?


•  Steed - a horse that a person rides.
•  Lance - a long, pointed weapon used in the past by knights riding on horses
•  Fanciful - coming from the imagination.
•  Meager - very small or too small in amount.
•  Stark - having a very plain appearance.
•  Trinkets - a piece of jewelry or an ornament that has little value.
•  Plague - to cause constant or repeated trouble, illness, for someone.

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What does Miguel and his sisters do to make themselves happy?
•  What kind of stories does Miguel daydream about?
•  Do you think Miguel was brave during all the moving his family had to do?
•  What happens that encourages Miguel to keep writing?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a knight's shield out of construction paper and decorate. Example on Pinterest.
•  Make a horse out of a paper plate. Example on Pinterest.
•  Make a Mother's Day card.
•  Check our craft ideas on Pinterest!

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!