Drum Dream Girl

Drum Dream Girl9780544102293_p0_v4_s260x420Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

Margarita Engle, Author

Rafael Lopez, Illustrator

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Mar. 31, 2015

Suitable for Ages: 4-9

Themes: Drummers, Music, Cuba, Gender equality, Diversity

Opening: “On and island of music / in a city of drumbeats / the drum dream girl / dreamed…”

Book Jacket Synopsis: Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music and rhythm, no one questioned that rule — until the drum dream girl. She longed to play tall congas and small bongos and silvery, moon-bright timbales. She had to keep her dream quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that boys and girls should be free to drum and dream.

Why I like this book: Margarita Engle’s Drum Dream Girl is an inspirational and beautiful work of free-verse historical fiction. As you read this melodic poem out loud, you are drawn to the rhythmic beat of the text about a girl who made a difference. Millo Castro Zaldarriaga is so infused by the music and sounds around her, she can’t help herself.  When she walked under / wind-wavy palm trees / in a flower-bright park / she heard the whir of parrot wings / the clack of woodpeckers breaks / the dancing tap / of her own footsteps / and the comforting pat / of her own / heartbeat. When her sisters hear her drumming, they invite her to join their dance band. Her father says only boys can play drums, but relents and takes her to a teacher.

I applaud Engle for focusing on Zaldarriaga’s young life instead of her career. It is important for children to see how a 10-year-old girl dares to make a difference in 1932 and paves the way for Cuban women to become drummers. There is a historical note about Zaldarriaga and her musical career at the end of the book. Rafael Lopez’s creates his own magic with his vibrant, colorful and dreamy illustrations. His artwork beautifully compliments the story.

Resources: Children love music as much as they enjoy making things.  Make a drum or other musical instruments to encourage creativity and play. Visit the Kinder Art site for steps to make a variety of easy homemade drums.

Author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books (PPB) Fridays will be on hiatus this summer. This will be the last PPB review until September, although you will still be able to visit the link. I will continue to review books throughout the summer.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

31 thoughts on “Drum Dream Girl

  1. This is a beautiful looking book, and such a unique story of a little girls dream. I love historic fiction so will look out for this one. Thanks for sharing, Pat. Beautiful review!


  2. I have a drummer in my family, and I really think drummers are born with the rhythm inside them – they have to let it out! It’s really fun that this is a true story, in the not-so-distant past. Brave people who are passionate are breaking boundaries every day!


  3. This book sounds lovely. And I also like how it focuses on her beginnings. Sounds dreamy and luscious, a great resource from which to learn. Thanks for highlighting! I just ordered it through the SFPL. Can’t wait!


  4. Oh, Pat, I can hear that dream drum calling my name. And I love the sound of it; WoW. Thanks so much. I’m kind of glad we’re taking a hiatus so I can get my book shopping done and my new library shelves filled.


  5. I love Margarita Engles’ work and have been meaning to get my hands on this new one. Thanks for the lovely review of this brave young woman’s story.


  6. What wonderfully brilliant artwork. What a story. And what fun listening to the trailer…. definitely going to find a copy of this book to read. Margarita is an awesome writer & it will be a treat to read another one of her new books.


  7. Yes, I Second that about a beautiful message. I don’t think girls can hear it often enough about their colleagues and peers that they can follow their dreams!! Strong girls make strong women and women rock. 🙂

    Thanks for introducing this important book to us about girls and diversity. Love that the heroine is Cuban. 🙂


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