Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Drum Dream Girl -- written by poet Margarita Engle (The Poet Slave of Cuba) and beautifully illustrated by Rafael Lopez (Book Fiesta!) -- is based on the true story of a young girl who broke down barriers for female drummers in Cuba in the 1930s. Her father at first admonishes her, but he has a change of heart and eventually warmly supports her. Drum Dream Girl won the 2016 Pura Bulpre Illustrator Award honoring a Latino illustrator whose children’s book best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latinx cultural experience.
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What's the Story?
A young African Chinese Cuban girl hears drumbeats all around her, including in her heart. But she's repeatedly told that girls cannot play drums in Cuba, so she plays her bongo drum alone but dreams of playing freely and in public. Her father refuses to let her play with her sisters' band, but eventually he allows her to have drum lessons. The girl’s teacher marvels at her skill and urges her on until finally she plays for an enthusiastic audience in a starlit garden café.
Is It Any Good?
Musical text and sumptuous illustrations honor the story of a young girl who wouldn't take no for an answer. Boys and girls will find encouragement to hold fast to their own dreams in this entrancing collaboration by Cuban American poet Margarita Engle and illustrator Rafael Lopez.
Engle's poem depicts Cuba as "the island of music" and beautifully describes the girl's "quiet secret drumbeat dreams.” Keeping her drumming to herself leaves her isolated. It's only when she can share her passion that she seems fully engaged with those around her. Lopez uses rich, warm hues to blend scenes of Cuban life (joyful musicians at a café, costumed dancers on stilts) with fantastic dreamscapes (the girl playing drums as a mermaid in the sea or climbing a tower of drums to beat her rhythm on the very moon). It's a book to treasure.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the idea that only boys should play drums. Can you think of anything that people today think is only for boys or only for girls? Do you think that's reasonable or unfair?
Look through the illustrations. Which are realistic scenes, and which have dreamlike imagery?
Do you hear drumming rhythms around you, as the girl hears in her footsteps and heartbeat?
- Author: Margarita Engle
- Illustrator: Rafael Lopez
- Genre: Picture Book
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Great Girl Role Models, Music and Sing-Along
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: March 31, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 3 - 9
- Number of pages: 48
- Available on: Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: ALA Best and Notable Books
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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