Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl's Courage Changed Music

by Margarita Engle and Rafael López

Millo Castro Zaldarriaga was born in Cuba in the 1920s and grew up attuned to the... read more

Millo Castro Zaldarriaga was born in Cuba in the 1920s and grew up attuned to the rhythms in the world around her and inside her. She dreamed of drumming, but only boys and men learned how to play at that time. She dared to drum anyway, “tall conga drums / small bongo drums / and big, round, silvery / moon-bright timbales … Her hands seemed to fly / as they rippled / rapped / and pounded / all the rhythms / of her drum dreams.” Her father said no when her sisters asked 10-year-old Millo to join their band. Only boys should play drums, he said. But Millo couldn’t silence the sounds. Her father agreed to find her a teacher who was amazed by her talent and helped Millo change the way people thought about girls and drumming. Margarita Engle’s musical poem makes a striking picture book narrative and is set against the vibrating tropical colors of Rafael López’s lush illustrations. A note tells how Afro-Chinese-Cuban Millo went on to be a world-famous musician who played alongside jazz greats, in addition to changing hearts and minds with her beats. Winner, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award (Ages 4–8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2016

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