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Drum dream girl : how one girl's courage changed music
2015
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Author Notes
Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American poet and novelist. Her books include The Wild Book, Tropical Secrets, The Firefly Letters, The Lightning Dreamer, When You Wander, Mountain Dog, and Silver People. She has received several awards including the Jane Addams Children's Book Award, the Pura Belpré Award, the Américas Award, and the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award for The Surrender Tree and the Pura Belpré Award and the Américas Award for The Poet Slave of Cuba. <p> (Bowker Author Biography)
Fiction/Biography Profile
Genre
Fiction
Juvenile
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Trade Reviews

  Publishers Weekly Review

A riot of tropical color adds sabor to the tale of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who dreams "of pounding tall conga drums,/ tapping small bongó drums/ and boom boom booming/ with long, loud sticks/ on big, round, silvery/ moon-bright timbales." Everybody in Cuba believes that only boys should play the drums, and her own father forbids her to perform, but the "drum dream girl" (as she's referred to throughout) finds her own drums, practices, and persists until her father relents and hires a teacher. Lopez's (Tito Puente, Mambo King) paintings fuse dream and reality as the girl flies through the air, drumming on the moon and making music with butterflies and birds; Engle's (Silver People) lines dance with percussive sound words and rhythmic repetition. Though an afterword reveals that Zaldarriaga later became famous enough to perform for Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Engle focuses on her initial struggles rather than her subsequent career. A valuable addition to the growing library of stories about strong Latina women. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. Illustrator's agent: Stefanie von Borstel, Full Circle Literary. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

  School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4-Engle's spare, rhythmic text gets at the heart of the struggle to achieve a dream in this picture-book biography about a Chinese African Cuban girl who aspired to play drums even when society's double standards stood as a barrier. Growing up in tempestuous 1930s Havana, during a time when universities were often shut down because of their opposition to the dictatorial President Machado, Millo Castro Zaldarriaga dared to dream of playing percussion instruments-timbales, congas, bongós-but her father was adamant that "only boys should play drums." But still she persisted in her hopes and eventually, with the help of her sisters and music teacher, became a member of the renowned Anacaona, Cuba's first all-girl dance band, founded by her sister, Cuchito Castro. López's zinging, neon-tinged art highlights the island's diversity, depicting the drum girl's flights of fancy set against the backdrop of carnival scenes and outdoor cafes. Details of Cuba's and the protagonist's Chinese, African, Taíno, and Spanish roots are seamlessly interwoven into the lyrical narrative and luminous acrylic paintings. The alliterative text parallels the snappy syncopation of the subject's instruments. The heroine's tenacity in the face of naysayers will inspire all dreamers, and the illustrator's smile-inducing cameo on the last page emphasizes the universality of Millo's story. For those looking for more nonfiction titles about female musical powerhouses, such as Monica Brown's My Name Is Celia/Me llamo Celia (Cooper Square, 2004), Katheryn Russell-Brown's Little Melba and Her Big Trombone (Lee & Low, 2014), and Carole Boston Weatherford's Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century (Knopf, 2014). An author's note gives more background on the groundbreaking percussionist. -Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Summary
Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule--until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boys should be free to drum and dream.<br> Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba's traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere.
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