Monday, April 6, 2015
Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music, written by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael Lopez. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Thomas Allen & Son. 2015. $21.99 ages 5 and up
on the island of music
in the city of drumbeats
believed that only boys
should play drums
so the drum dream girl
had to keep dreaming
Oh, I am such an admirer of Margarita Engle's elegant writing and of her beautifully told stories. Using verse to tell this tale of a young Cuban girl is further proof that she shares her passion for her subject in a concise and perfect way ... no superfluous information. The rhythmic text echoes the music that beats through the young girl's body. Yet, we learn about the island nation, the turbulent times and the allure of music for everyone, girls included.
Millo Castro Zaldarriaga was born of Chinese-African-Cuban parentage and lived on the beautiful island with her family in the 1930s, a time when it was taboo for women to play the drums. Her love of music and drumming filled her days with practice on every conceivable surface, and her nights with dreams of drumming.
"Her hands seemed to fly
as they rippled
all the rhythms
of her drum dreams."
She was only 10 when her sisters asked her to a part of their all-girl dance band. Her father refused to let her, saying that girls could not be drummers. Millo returned to drumming in private, and in her dreams. When her father relented and sought a teacher to determine her talent, Millo proved even more talented that anyone might have imagined. She worked hard to improve, amazing her teacher who found her work in a sidewalk café where everyone could hear 'her drum dreams'.
This is an uplifting picture book biography about an extremely talented young girl whose courage and stamina led the way for all who had the talent to play the drums, male or female. A short historical note is included.
Rafael Lopez uses acrylic paint on wood board to give life to Millo's story. He focuses his art on the brilliance and warmth of the island landscape, the energetic movements of a young girl who wants only to be a drummer, and the vivid, imaginative dreams that give strength to her quest to play the music she loves. A perfect combination of text and visuals, we are blessed to have this story to share with children.