By Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2015. 48 pages. $16.99/hardcover; $12.99/eBook. Recommended for ages 6–9.
Drum Dream Girl is a poem written by Margarita Engle based on the true story of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who challenged the Cuban tradition of male drummers. Eventually she traveled internationally as a famous percussionist. The bold, colorful illustrations by Rafael López complement this book about a young girl who longed to play percussion. As a young girl, she was captivated by the magical, rhythmic sounds of congas, bongos, and timbales. Music was in her soul and on her mind. She heard music all around her including “the whir of the parrot wings . . . the dancing tap of her own footsteps and the comforting pat of her own heartbeat.” She was invited to play drums in her sisters’ all-girl band, but her father would not allow her to perform. Later Millo’s dad had a change of heart, letting her take drum lessons and eventually perform. “Everyone who heard her dream-bright music sang and danced and decided that girls should always be allowed to play drums and both girls and boys should feel free to dream.”
The inspirational message of Drum Dream Girl should appeal to parents, teachers, and children. This book would be a welcome addition to a home or meeting library.