cover image Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

Margarita Engle, illus. by Rafael López. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-544-10229-3

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.)