Drummer Boy of John John

by Mark Greenwood and Frane Lessac

As Carnival approaches in the village of John John on the island of Trinidad, the... read more

As Carnival approaches in the village of John John on the island of Trinidad, the Roti King has promised free rotis for the best band. Almost everyone is practicing, determined to win the little folded pancakes filled with chicken and herbs and spices. There are chac-chac players with their gourds (“shoush-shap shukka-shap”). The tamboo bamboo band pounds big sticks (“click clack rappa-tap”). There’s even a bottle-and-spoon orchestra (“jingle jangle clink clank clunk”). Young Winston doesn’t have a band, and can’t imagine Carnival without roti. When he throws away a mango pit in the junkyard, it bounces off a milk can (“pong”), a biscuit tin (“ping”), and rusty paint bucket (“pang”), giving Winston an idea. Gathering all the metal containers he can find, he hammers the metal until clear notes sound when he hits them. His friends gather, and the junkyard band is formed. Mark Greenwood’s story, vibrantly illustrated by Frané Lessac, is loosely based on the childhood of Winston “Spree” Simon, who was an early pioneer in the development of the steel drum. Information about Simon, who died in 1976, is included in a lengthy author’s note following this lively narrative. (Ages 6–9)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2013

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