“Julia, they’re already warming up. Hurry!” Cheito says to his little sister as they rush to their bomba class. Cheito is a natural on the drums, but Julia isn’t as enthusiastic about dancing.
Julia tries to imitate the best dancer in the class, but her turns are still too slow, her steps too big. She just can’t do anything right! When the instructor announces the younger students will be participating in the bombazo and performing a solo, Julia is terrified. When it’s her turn, she takes a deep breath, closes her eyes and focuses on the beat of the drum. As she dances, Julia notices that the drums are actually talking to her. Feeling braver, she stops worrying and trying so hard. Instead, she loses herself in the rhythm of the bomba drums and enjoys herself!
Introducing children—and adults!—to the Afro-Latino tradition of bomba music and dancing, author and educator Raquel M. Ortiz shares another story for children ages 5-9 about her rich Puerto Rican heritage. With lively illustrations by Flor de Vita that aptly express Julia’s frustration, fear and joy, this book will help children understand that practicing—whether dance steps, dribbling a ball or playing a musical instrument—yields results!
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A Junior Library Guild Selection
“Afro-Puerto Rican dance traditions are celebrated through one girl’s breakthrough moment with bomba. A solid reminder of music’s power and a good primer on Puerto Rican dance culture.”—Kirkus Reviews
“The theme of dance as a liberating force for self-expression is enhanced by cultural context in this picture book. Ortiz’s straightforward text taps into several relatable and authentic themes, including the pressure children can feel to embody all aspects of their cultural backgrounds, and dispelling the notion that all Latinxs are naturally rhythmically gifted. A wonderful pairing for titles depicting the intersectionality of Latinx heritage, like Margarita Engle’s Drum Dream Girl and Eric Velasquez’s Looking for Bongo.” —Booklist
“The illustrations provide readers with a clear view of Julia’s emotions as she confronts her fears and anxiety about dancing. The author includes general information about the bomba as well as a glossary of Spanish words in this bilingual edition. VERDICT An additional purchase for patrons who are interested in learning about bomba, a Puerto Rican dance.”—School Library Journal
RAQUEL M. ORTIZ was born and raised in Lorain, Ohio. She is the author of two other bilingual picture books: Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural / Sofi y el mágico mural musical (Arte Público Press, 2015) and Sofi Paints Her Dreams / Sofi pinta sus sueños (Piñata Books, 2019). She has worked at The Brooklyn Museum, the Allen Memorial Art Museum and El Museo del Barrio. Currently, she creates educational material for the Puerto Rican Heritage Cultural Ambassadors Program at the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York City.
FLOR DE VITA, a native of Veracruz, Mexico, is the illustrator of Just One Itsy Bitsy Little Bite / Sólo una mordidita chiquitita (Piñata Books, 2018). A graduate of the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey with a B.A. in Animation and Digital Art, she currently resides in Jalisco, Mexico.
ATOS Interest Level: Lower Grades
Category: Picture Book
SPANISH LEXILE: 710L