Imagination allows you the freedom to be who you want to be and do what you love to do, even when society dictates otherwise. No one knows this better than Drum Dream Girl. In this picture book bursting with vibrance and rhythm, a girl dreams of playing the drums in 1930s Cuba, when the music-filled island had a taboo against female drummers.


Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael López


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 boys should be free to drum and dream.

Inspired by the childhood of Millo Castro Zaldarriaga, a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers, Drum Dream Girl tells an inspiring true story for dreamers everywhere.


Check out the trailer for the book:


Margarita Engle is a Cuban-American poet and novelist whose work has been published in many countries. Her many acclaimed books include Silver People, The Lightning Dreamer, The Wild Book, and The Surrender Tree, a Newbery Honor Book. She is a several-time winner of the Pura Belpré and Américas awards, as well as other prestigious honors.

Rafael López grew up in Mexico City, where he was immersed in the rick cultural heritage and color of street life. His vibrant picture books include Tito Puente, Mambo King and My Name is Celia, both written by Monica Brown, and Book Fiesta! by Pat Mora. He has received the Pura Belpré and Américas awards multiple times. An acclaimed muralist, he has designed community-based mural projects nationwide.

What’s Margarita Engle’s favorite word? Find out in her Q&A:


What would Rafael López be if he weren’t an illustrator? Check out the Q&A to find out:


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