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Drum Dream Girl

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2016 Pura Belpré Award Illustrator Winner. 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...

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2016 Pura Belpré Award Illustrator Winner.

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.

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.

  • Author: Margarita Engle
  • Illustrations: Rafael Lopez
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Pages: 48
  • Size: 8 x 10
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Age Range: 4 - 7 Years

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. —Publishers Weekly

The talented Margarita Engle has won major awards for almost every book she has written. Meet her here

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