Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal
by Margarita Engle
Grades 5 & up
Told in free verse poetry, Silver People tells the story of the digging of the Panama Canal, and the racism that was used to segregate the workers there. It is told from several points of view, including Mateo (a Cuban teenager), Henry (a Jamaican worker), Anita (a Panamanian girl), and various rainforest animals. The workers are separated by ethnicity, and paid along these lines rather than their work. We see the danger and the hardships they face on a daily basis, most of it due to institutionalized racism. That it is told in poems makes the story even more powerful. Outstanding historical fiction, telling an important side of the Panama Canal. Recommended for grades 5 & up.