|Drum dream girl : how one girl's courage changed music|
Author: Engle, Margarita
Follows a girl in the 1920s as she strives to become a drummer, despite being continually reminded that only boys play the drums, and that there has never been a female drummer in Cuba. Includes note about Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, who inspired the story, and Anacaona, the all-girl dance band she formed with her sisters.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: LG
Reading Level: 4.20
Points: .5 Quiz: 173968
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.30
Points: 1.0 Quiz: 68901
Common Core Standards
Grade 1 → Reading → RL Reading Literature → 1.RL Key Ideas & Details
Grade 1 → Reading → RL Reading Literature → 1.RL Craft & Structure
Kirkus Reviews (+) (12/15/14)
School Library Journal (02/01/17)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (05/15)
The Hornbook (00/05/15)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 01/01/2015 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 - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 02/01/2015 A talented young girl with a passion for drumming dreams of playing music in this upbeat story based on the life of Cuban musician Millo Castro Zaldarriaga. Told repeatedly that girls cannot be drummers, she refuses to give up, practicing in secret and delighting in every bit of music around her. A visit to an open-minded music teacher results in lessons and, eventually, the opportunity to perform in public. Vibrant, warm, and hopeful, this expressive story shows the power of perseverance and importance of following your dreams. Engle’s prose flows easily, with clean but evocative language that will be accessible to a range of young readers. López’s illustrations are lushly saturated with color, and the warm palette and bright tones transport readers to the tropical setting, while visible brushstrokes and layered colors bring depth to each scene. 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. An author’s note provides some background on Zaldarriaga, the inspiration for this fictional story. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 05/01/2015 “On an island of music/ in a city of drumbeats/ the drum dream girl/ dreamed.” The unnamed island is Cuba, and the unnamed girl, as explained in an historical note, is real-life musician Millo Castro Zaldarriaga. The dream is her desire to play the conga drums, bongo drums, and “moon bright timbales,” a privilege reserved for boys and men in 1920s Cuba. Her older sisters form an all-girl dance band and invite her to play, but her father forbids it. He does, however, agree to put the final decision in the hands of a percussion teacher, who recognizes the girl’s talent and guides her to public performance. Engle’s free-verse poem leaves Millo playing bongos for moonlit dancers, with the somewhat didactic commentary that “girls should always/ be allowed to play/ drums/ and both girls and boys/ should feel free/ to dream.” (A closing note adds that Millo eventually performed for President Theodore Roosevelt in 1932.) López’s acrylic paintings, with textured, knife-edged shapes layered onto dappled backdrops reminiscent of murals, are vivid and lush, offering symbolic imagery that is challenging yet accessible to children who are just beginning to figure out visual language. Even without the specifics offered in the closing note, young viewers will be able to reflect on the meaning of the winged drum in a bird cage, the father lassoing his girl down from the clouds with slender ribbons, the identity of the straw-hatted man who sits with his sketchpad on a cloud, observing Millo play her bongos. With its emphasis on artistry and visual metaphor, this title bears a strong kinship with Yuyi Morales’ Viva Frida (BCCB 12/14), but it also brings an accessibility that young viewers (and teachers) will appreciate. EB - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2017 Gr 1–4—The award-winning Cuban American author has made her mark on children's literature with her powerful portrayals of little-known aspects of Cuban history, often shedding light on the Afro-Cuban experience. This work is inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke down traditional taboos against female drummers. López's luminous illustrations represent the island's diversity. Details of Cuba's and the protagonist's Chinese, African, Taíno, and Spanish roots are interwoven into the lyrical narrative and the vibrant acrylic paintings. - Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.