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Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music Hardcover – March 31, 2015
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From School Library Journal
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
* "A beautiful account of a young girl's bravery and her important contribution toward gender equality in the creative arts."
—Kirkus, starred review
* "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."
—School Library Journal, starred review
"The text and illustrations work together beautifully here, creating a story that will imbue readers with inspiration and a yearning to make music of their own."
"A valuable addition to the growing library of stories about strong Latina women."
"With its emphasis on artistry and visual metaphor, this title bears a strong kinship with Yuyi Morales’ Viva Frida, but it also brings an accessibility that young viewers (and teachers) will appreciate."
"Engle’s poetic text takes its cues from Zaldarriaga’s chosen instrument, its rhythm at times steadily assured and at others loose and improvisational...[E]very spread is full of motion, with some of the illustrations requiring a ninety-degree turn, as if the book itself has got to dance."
—Horn Book Magazine
"Engle's poetic narrative combined with Lopez's warmly ethereal folk-art illustrations to evoke a nighttime tropical dreamscape."
—New York Times Book Review
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Well done, Margarita - keep them coming, our 3 YO is growing up and needs more like this!