Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music
by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015
2016 Pura Belpré Illustrator Award
Inspired by a true story of a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers, the book clearly encourages children to follow their hearts and dreams.
A young girl who loves drumbeats listens to them in fascination. She listens to the conga drums, the bongo drums and the timbales and imagines herself playing them. But on her island, only boys can play drums. She kept her drum-beating dreams to herself, beating and dancing beats when she could, at home, in the parks, or in her dreams. One day her older sisters invite her to join their all-girl band and she is elated! Only her traditional father says only boys should play the drums. So she continues to drum alone. But then one day her father offers “to find a music teacher who could decide if her drums deserved to be heard.” The teacher was amazed at her abilities and the girl practiced and practiced. One day he suggests she play in public, and soon the traditional ways fell aside.
The bright, contrasting colors depict the many moods the drums elicit and bring the drumbeats and rhythms into the reader’s heart.