Illustrator: David Diaz
Category: Children's
Format: Picture Book
Publisher: Clarion Books
Cover Type: Hard Cover

As the illegitimate son of a Spanish nobleman and a former slave, Martin de Porres was born into extreme poverty. Even so, his mother begged the church fathers to allow him into the priesthood. Instead, Martin was accepted as a servant boy. But soon, the young man was performing miracles. Rumors began to fly around the city of a strange mulatto boy with healing hands, who gave first to the people of the barrios. Martin continued to serve in the church, until he was finally received by the Dominican Order, no longer called the worthless son of a slave, but rather a saint and the rose in the desert.

PageNumber: 32
ISBN: 978-0-547-61218-8
Price: $16.99
CopyrightDate: 2012


With images of surpassing beauty and power and a text both simple and lyrical, Diaz and Schmidt tell the life of the first black saint of the Americas.

Martín’s mother was African, his father a Spanish nobleman. His father took his children from Lima, Peru, where they lived in desperate poverty, to Ecuador, where he gave them his name. Back in Lima, Martín was apprenticed to a healer, and at 15 he asked admittance to the monastery. Because of his mixed blood he could not be a priest, but he offered himself as a servant. His gifts as a healer became known throughout the city, and Spanish nobles waited for his healing touch while he first tended the poorest and most desperate, both human and animal. Schmidt recounts the story using repeated motifs: the dark eyes of the boy; the frowns of the Spaniards; the name-calling. Diaz achieves an extraordinary luminosity in his illustrations. The tenderness with which Martín treats his charges, the vivid expressions of those who scorn him and those who rely on him, and the balance of shape and stunning color make each page shine. A note offers further details, but, alas, there is no bibliography.

A visual—and, it must be said, spiritual—delight. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

"Schmidt's telling, touching in its simplicity, is well matched with Diaz's exceptional artwork, which is bold and referential in equal parts."

Booklist, starred review

"An artful and reverent portrait of a lesser-known figure."

School Library Journal

"Diaz's visualization of this story is magnificent."

Horn Book