by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2015)
Girls CANNOT be drummers! This was the rule.
And so a girl who dreamed
“of pounding tall conga drums
tapping small bongo drums
and boom boom booming
with long, loud sticks
on big, round silvery
had to dream and practice in secret.
The rhythm of the island music - outdoor cafes, at carnivals, in parks and at home - constantly pulled at her, and she imagined she could hear her own music in the drumming of her feet, in the beat of her heart, in the tapping of her fingers and hands on tables and chairs.
Constantly reminded by everyone that girls did not play drums, the drum dream girl played in secret and only for herself, until one day she dared to break the rules.
The power and pull of the drum girl’s imagination and dreams, and the rhythm and vibrancy of the island can be felt in both the lyrical text and the gorgeous illustrations.
The story of the drum dream girl was inspired by Chinese-African-Cuban girl, Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, who broke Cuba’s taboo against female drummers and in 1932 at the age of ten, performed with her older sisters in Cuba’s first all-girl dance band.
should feel free