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

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  3,155 ratings  ·  687 reviews
Girls cannot be drummers. Long ago on an island filled with music, no one questioned that rule—until the drum dream girl. In her city of drumbeats, she dreamed of pounding tall congas and tapping small bongós. She had to keep quiet. She had to practice in secret. But when at last her dream-bright music was heard, everyone sang and danced and decided that both girls and boy ...more
Hardcover, 42 pages
Published March 31st 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published March 24th 2015)
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Average rating 4.25  · 
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 ·  3,155 ratings  ·  687 reviews

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Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Readers Looking for Beautifully-Illustrated Picture-Books and/or Stories About Girl Musicians
Inspired by the story of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who dreamed of being a drummer in a time when that occupation was reserved for boys and men, Cuban-American author Margarita Engle spins a poetic narrative about a "drum dream girl" who cannot quell her natural impulse to drum. Hearing beats all around her, in the natural and human worlds, and in her own heartbeat, the girl must dream and drum in secret, until her father finally relents and has a teacher listen to he ...more
A Margarita Engle picture book, people!!!!!

Not surprisingly, I love the text--I adore Engle's use of poetry to introduce readers to various achievements by Cubans. In writing a picture book, she hit the jackpot with Rafael Lopez. His illustrations are bold and bright, perfect for reflecting the tone of the story and the country.
Stunning illustrations illuminate the pages of this beautiful biography of a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke the Cuban taboo against female drummers. YES, you read that right. Even tapping your hands on resonant objects was once off-limits to the ladies. If that's not reason enough to read this book, it should be! ...more
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Girls should be allowed to do anything they want! Including play the drums! A beautifully written and illustrated book. Very rich palette of colors.
Dec 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Inspired by a true story, this picture book is about a girl who refused to allow societal rules to stop her from her musical dreams. In Cuba, girls were not drummers, but one girl dreamed of pounding drums big and small and making amazing music. Everyone said that only boys could be drummers though, so she kept quiet about her dreams.Everywhere she went though she could hear drumbeats that were all her own. Finally the girl dared to start drumming on real drums and she joined her sister in an al ...more
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Lyrical writing and gorgeous illustrations. An inspiring, empowering story for all ages. My primary students loved it. It's getting a lot of attention on our "favorites" bookshelf. ...more
This ‘drum dream girl’, an African-Chinese-Cuban girl broke the taboo that only boys could play drums. The story/poem is lovely, filled with those wonderful drumming sounds, at first in drum dream girl’s imagination, then finally in real places. We read “the clack of woodpecker beats” and the “comforting pat of her own heartbeat”, see her listening to “the rattling beat of towering dancers on stilts.” Finally she is given permission to drum, at last all girls in Cuba would have the chance. The i ...more
Laura Harrison
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Inspiring story with gorgeous, vibrant, original illustrations.
Edward Sullivan
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
A beautifully illustrated story based on the life of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga who breaks Cuba's traditional taboo against female drummers and becomes a world-famous musician. ...more
Sarah Mae
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: awards-honors, to-buy
Awesome story about a the girl who broke Cuba's taboo against female drummers. Poetic words and beautiful illustrations. another on my to buy list. ...more
Betty Ortega
Oct 30, 2016 rated it liked it
* Book Summary
This is the story of a little multiracial girl who loved to play the drums and her dream was to be a professional drum player but finds that it is a taboo idea because only boys are the ones who play the drums. This book takes us through her story on how she change music.
Pura Belpre

* Grade Level/ Interest level
* Appropriate Classroom Use
I would use this book when discussing how have people change history or just as a carpet read

*Student Who Might Benefit From Rea
Katt Hansen
Sep 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love the colors, the fantastic illustrations, the girl who wants only to drum. I love how she doesn't give up despite what she's told, and how she finally convinces the world around her to give her a chance. Again, this is one of those biographies about someone that I've never heard of, but wish I had. I found very little about her on the internet after reading this, which is a shame. Here's a girl worth remembering. I wish I could hear a recording of her drumming somewhere... ...more
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Spoiler alert: Girls CAN be drummers <3

Also a mermaid picture. You know just how to win me over, you lovely book you.
Nov 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful story and vibrant illustrations. I didn't realize just from the title that it is based on the true story of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba's traditional taboo against female drummers in the 1930s. I'm awarding a bonus star for the outstanding performance on the Wonderbooks audio version of this -- the narrator does a great job and hearing the music really elevates the story to another level. If you don't have access to the Wonderbook version at yo ...more
A wonderfully illustrated poem of a Cuban born 10 yr old, Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, who broke all the rules by being a female drummer in 1932!
Katie Clark
Sep 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: katie-reviews
Drum Dream Girl is a biography that encourages children to dream and overcome challenges. This book was inspired by a true story about a Chinese-African-Cuban girl named Millo Castro Zaldarriaga who wanted to be a drummer. In Cuba, women weren’t allowed to be drummers, but despite this Millo holds on to her dream and becomes a world-famous jazz musician.

The vibrant collage style art of this book gives this book a positive tone. The book focuses on dreams, not despair. The artwork uses analogy a
Bhebden Hebden
Feb 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
I located Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music, by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael Lopez, during my international book search at my public library. This poetic book with its alluring folk-art illustrations takes one on a journey to Cuba during an era when drum playing was forbidden for girls. Through Engle’s rhythmical wording, the reader joins the passionate desire of the girl (nameless in the story) as she wonders through her daily life and dreamy world, discovering ...more
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful book about having dreams. I loved how I could not tell the girl's background. I was confused about where the story took place and thought maybe it is not meant to be one place, because it is about her dream, and dreams are boundaryless. The illustrations were eclectic, colorful, sharp, vivid, and attractive. After I found out that it is about a Chinese-African-Cuban girl, it all made even more sense. I found this book on The Pura Belpre website.
The illustration was the winner
Laura Anderson
In this excellent back-in-time story, the author takes you on a journey long long ago on an island in Cuba. The Dream Drum Girl is a true-to-life biography/memoir of a little girl whose only dream was to drum at a time when girls were legally not allowed to drum. You can literally feel the girl’s passion for music as she goes to different places in her hometown just to hear the dream drums play. And as the rhythm fills the air in this true-to-life fairytale, the little girl never gives up on her ...more
Cassandra Gelvin
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When you're a victim of discrimination, banging on the drums all day is a kind of work.

It's inspired by the true story of a Chinese-African Cuban girl, Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, from 1932. The story is that a girl wants to play the drums, but where she lives, people believe that only boys should play drums. So she dreams about it and listens to the music and imagines herself playing music for a long time, and then eventually she just decides she's gonna play the drums and she plays them. Her big
I chose, Drum Dream Girl: How One Girls Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle, because it teaches students that cultures have different beliefs and traditions. According to Adam & Harper (2016) teachers that read high quality diverse books are supporting students to value multiple perspectives, recognize unfairness, and provide model for challenging inequity. This book will promote meaningful discussions that will support student understanding and appreciation of the perspectives an
Jun 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
How many girls still grow up being told that “girls can’t do that”? I know I was - not by my parents, but by others, who discouraged me from pursuing my dreams.

This is a story inspired by a Chinese-African-Cuban girl, Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, who never gave up her own dream of being a drummer, and succeeded in breaking Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers, becoming, at age ten, the first female to play drums publicly in Cuba. Millo was a world-famous musician by the 1930’s, even, at
Sydney Funk
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-summaries
• Drum dream girl spends her time wishing for drums of all kinds to play, she loves the way the sound and feel. Every time she hears the sweet sound of the drums there is a boy playing. Everyone says she is not allowed to play the drums, even her father, until one day he decides to get a drum tutor for her to see if she was any good. This choice changed her life. Dream Drum Girl tells the story of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga who in 1932 broke the Cuban taboo of girls playing the drums.
• K-4th grade
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sarah Rationale: I chose this book because it shows how some traditions in other countries can play into stereo types. Even though everyone was telling her that only boys could play drums she followed her heart and showed them she could do it.

Reflection Text to Self: This book reminds me of my childhood. When I was in the 2nd grade my dad took me to the music store to pick out an instrument. We left with a trumpet. When I joined the school band I was the only girl trumpet player until high schoo
Stephanie Metcalf
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
"And even though everyone kept reminding her that girls on the island of music had never played drums the brave drum dream girl dared to play..." This beautifully illustrated poem takes us on the journey of one brave girl who dared to dream big! On an island of music we meet this brave girl and follow her from one no to another until one day her father decides maybe she could play the drums.

This is a WOW book for me because it is about a young girl following her dreams and never giving up. We n
Jim Erekson
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Lopez' charming figures get even better when set into his mural-like backgrounds. He delivers his muralist attention to the spread as a space to be dominated by color and graphic shapes, with textured backgrounds that reminded me of stucco walls. The illustrations are what held me to the pages of the book--especially the imagined or dream sequences. Switching back and forth from landscape to portrait also changes the dynamic of the spread and the experience. Looking up instead of side to side em ...more
Katherine Austin
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reading-4050
1) Book summary, in your own words (3 pts)
-This book is about Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a real-life famous musician, but at first, she is just a little girl with a dream to become a drummer. She has to fight a lot of discrimination because in Cuba the time she was growing up, girl's do not become drummers, that is for boys. Despite this, she pushes on and became one of the best.
2) Grade level, interest level, lexile (1 pt)
-1st-2nd grade
3) Appropriate classroom use (subject area) (1 pt)
-Music cla
Jan 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: diverse-books
I found this book through the Multicultural Trade Book Resources. I digitally listened to this book through OverDrive but also read a hard copy to see the illustrations.

This picture book is based on the true story of a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who went against her culture’s tradition of male only drummers. The story follows a young girl who dreams of playing the drums while all the people around tell her that only boys are allowed to play drums. Even with all the negativity surrounding her, t
Molly Fitzsimons
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: elm-572
This picture book is a poem that tells the story of a young girl in Cuba in the 1920's who dreams of playing the drums. She is constantly being told that girls are not allowed to play the drums. She continues to dream and practice until her father decides to get her a music teacher to see if she really has talent. The story's poetry form evokes the rhythm of drums to help the reader feel and hear what the drum dream girl is feeling when she plays the drums. This illustrations of this book also h ...more
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Drum Dream Girl is an inspirational biography about a young multicultural girl by the name of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga. Millo grew up in Cuba in the 1930s and was passionate about playing the drums, but girls were not allowed to play the drums. Boys were the only chosen to play this instrument. Her heartwarming journey is told through the use of free verse poetry and show’s how one girl’s courage changed music forever.
Drum Dream Girl would be appropriate to use as a read aloud in second or thir
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Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American poet, novelist, and journalist whose work has been published in many countries. She lives with her husband in northern California.

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  Tami Charles is a former teacher and the author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made...
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