Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Under the Mambo Moon

Under the Mambo Moon

Julia Durango
Illustrator:  Fabricio VandenBroeck 
Poetry Book
For ages 6 to 8
Charlesbridge, 2011   ISBN: 978-1570917233

On summer evenings Marisol helps her father in the family music store. Marisol’s Papi tells her that the “you can / read people’s souls by the music they listen to,” and that people come into their store to “buy dreams / and memories.”

A steady stream of people comes and goes, and they all have music related memories that they share with Marisol and her Papi. Mrs. Garcia is a house cleaner who, at the end of the day, comes home with a tired and aching back. She tells Marisol about her quinceanera, when she wore a pink dress and a tiara and when she danced to the mariachi band tunes all afternoon.

Catalina has been buying mangoes at the grocery store and she has her own music story to tell. She, unlike the many people who like to dance the waltz wearing formal gowns and suits, likes to dance the cha-cha-cha. In her party dress and pink high heels, she likes to “shine like a jewel” on the dance floor.

Professor Soto is missing his home in the Andes and he tells Papi and the other folk in the shop about a pan pipe player that he saw in park the day before. The musician has performed in concerts in five countries, and when he plays the haunting sounds of his pipes take listeners far away to his “highland home” where the wind whistles through the “cracks and crevices.”

Mr. and Mrs. Mayer then come in. Mrs. Mayer looks like “an old-time movie star,” and she and her husband know how to dance the tango. Papi asks her to give them a “quick tango lesson.”

In this wonderful book we go into a music shop and meet the people there, all of whom love the music, and often the dance, of Latin America. We hear about the rhythms of the music and see how talking about the music and dance brings people’s past, present and future to life. Together they share their stories in the shop and then, when the day ends, Marisol and her family create their own musical memories.