Millo Castro Zaldarriaga was born in Cuba in the 1920s and grew up attuned to the rhythms in the world around her, and inside her. She dreamed of drumming, but only boys and men learned how to play at that time. She dared to drum anyway, “tall conga drums / small bongo drums / and big, round, silvery / moon-bright timbales … Her hands seemed to fly / as they rippled / rapped / and pounded / all the rhythms / of her drum dreams.” Her father said no when her sisters asked ten-year-old Millo to join their band. Only boys should play drums, he said. But Millo couldn’t silence the sounds.
“Sky grumbles. Rain tumbles. Big weather — you’d better … get under umbrella! BOOM BOOM.” A rainstorm in the big city on a summer day means the appearance of umbrellas, a mad dash for the subway, and a spontaneous, generous-spirited gathering belowground. “The storm above makes friends of strangers. We laugh under cover at thunder and danger.”
Robbie Robertson’s rise to fame as a founding member of The Band, and writer of some of the iconic songs of the late 1960s and early 1970s, is chronicled by his son Sebastian in a substantial and engaging picture book biography. From the time he was a young child visiting his Mohawk relatives on the Six Nations Reservation in Canada, Robertson was immersed in “rhythm, melodies, and storytelling.” And from the time he got his first guitar, he spent hours practicing. “On the reservation, eleven-year-old Robbie had surpassed the adults as the best guitarist.”
A young boy wonders where his family will get the new baby he’s been told will be coming. His neighbor Olive tells him a seed will grow into a baby tree; his teacher says the baby will come from the hospital; Grandpa says a stork will bring the baby; the mailman thinks it has something to do with eggs. Back at home in the evening, he asks his parents, who tell him about the seed from his dad and the egg from his mom, and the baby that will grow inside her until it’s ready to be born, “sometimes at home, but usually at the hospital.”