Under The Mambo Moon

Book Reviews

Under the Mambo Moon.  Durango, Julia (author). Illustrated by Fabricio VandenBroeck. July 2011. 48p. Charlesbridge, hardcover, $12.95 (9781570917233). Grades 3-5. 811.

REVIEW. First published June 1, 2011 (Booklist).

Poetry, music, and dance come together with visually stimulating art and an authentic presentation of diversity in Latin American cultures to make this small book stand large. In lines of simple blank verse, young Marisol tells of accompanying her father to his record store and observing the various customers who shop for the dance music they love: “Papi says you can / read people’s souls / by the music / they listen to; / that hearts / fly home / when the music’s / just right.” Marisol’s narrative is illustrated in soft black and grays with elements of block print, sketch pencil, and wash that bring the store and its customers stylishly to life. As the dozen or so visitors—including a professor from Andean South America who recalls a zampoña (panpipe) player, a preschool teacher who loves to dance the son jaracho from Mexico’s Veracruz region, and a young man from the neighborhood who chats about the bossa nova and a certain girl from Ipanema—are introduced, they each get a page spread with a poem and a brightly colored pastel portrait that together vibrantly capture the movement and allure of each dance style. Back matter includes pithy descriptions of the different regions and dances evoked in the preceding poems. This lively book will delight many independent readers, dancers, and artists and provide a fun and accessible introduction to Latin American history and its lasting heritage of music and dance. — Francisca Goldsmith

Horn Book Guide:
Durango, Julia Under the Mambo Moon
48 pp. Charlesbridge 2011. ISBN 978-1-57091-723-3
(3) 4-6 Illustrated by Fabricio VandenBroeck.
At the narrator’s father’s music store, “people come…to buy dreams and memories.” Customers stop by and tell their stories (a series of linked free-verse poems), each connecting to a Latin musical style or dance. Illustrations accompanying the girl’s narration are in black and white while the visitors’ tales appear in vibrant color. A useful author’s note is appended.


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