A beautiful account of a young girl’s bravery and her important contribution toward gender equality in the creative arts.

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DRUM DREAM GIRL

HOW ONE GIRL'S COURAGE CHANGED MUSIC

Pura Belpré winner and Newbery honoree Engle, known for writing free-verse historical fiction, introduces readers to Millo Castro Zaldarriaga with this illustrated poem, inspired by her subject’s childhood.

Millo became a world-famous musician at quite a young age. Before fame, however, as Engle’s account attests, there is struggle. Millo longs to play the drums, but in 1930s Cuba, drumming is taboo for girls, “so the drum dream girl / had to keep dreaming / quiet / secret / drumbeat / dreams.” This doesn’t stop Millo; she dares to let her talent soar, playing every type of drum that she can find. Her sisters invite her to join their all-girl band, but their father refuses to allow Millo to play the drums. Eventually, her father softens, connecting her with a music teacher who determines that her talent is strong enough to override the social stigma. The rhythmic text tells Millo’s story and its significance in minimal words, with a lyricism that is sure to engage both young children and older readers. López’s illustrations are every bit as poetic as the narrative, a color-saturated dreamscape that Millo dances within, pounding and tapping her drums. Though it’s not explicit in the text, her mixed Chinese-African-Cuban descent is hinted at in the motifs López includes.

A beautiful account of a young girl’s bravery and her important contribution toward gender equality in the creative arts. (historical note) (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-10229-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A resplendent masterpiece.

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DREAMERS

Based on her experience of leaving Mexico for the United States, Morales’ latest offers an immigrant’s tale steeped in hope, dreams, and love.

This story begins with a union between mother and son, with arms outstretched in the midst of a new beginning. Soon after, mother and son step on a bridge, expansive “like the universe,” to cross to the other side, to become immigrants. An ethereal city appears, enfolded in fog. The brown-skinned woman and her child walk through this strange new land, unwilling to speak, unaccustomed to “words unlike those of our ancestors.” But soon their journey takes them to the most marvelous of places: the library. In a series of stunning double-page spreads, Morales fully captures the sheer bliss of discovery as their imaginations take flight. The vibrant, surreal mixed-media artwork, including Mexican fabric, metal sheets, “the comal where I grill my quesadillas,” childhood drawings, and leaves and plants, represents a spectacular culmination of the author’s work thus far. Presented in both English and Spanish editions (the latter in Teresa Mlawer’s translation), equal in evocative language, the text moves with purpose. No word is unnecessary, each a deliberate steppingstone onto the next. Details in the art provide cultural markers specific to the U.S., but the story ultimately belongs to one immigrant mother and her son. Thanks to books and stories (some of her favorites are appended), the pair find their voices as “soñadores of the world.”

A resplendent masterpiece. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4055-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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