This is a really tremendous book for school-aged readers!
Samantha (Sam) really wants to be a drummer. She takes drumming seriously and even though some of the other drummers (all boys) are better than her right now, she’s hoping that with some practice and determination, she will make the jazz band. All she needs is more practice. But there’s no way her parents will ever be able to afford a drum set. She practices in her room with a collection of books and notebooks and other items from her room, each set up and representing a drum or cymbal from a drum kit.
Sam really wants to beat the boys out of a spot in jazz band, but then word comes from her middle school band teacher that due to budget cuts, band is being cut from the curriculum for the next year.
This is devastating for Sam. Band in school is the only way she’ll ever get the drum lessons she so badly wants. Unless…
Pete Taylor is the best drum teacher in town. Some say he even has TWO drums sets in his home. Without band in school, the only alternative for Sam is to take private lessons. But Pete’s lessons cost $30 per half hour. Sam’s parents would never agree to that, even if Pete Taylor would agree to take on a new student.
But Sam gets an idea. She will borrow her dad’s lawnmower and mow lawns every week in order to make the necessary weekly pay for lessons from Pete. She manages to get enough lawns to mow (she will mow on the days her father isn’t home so that he’ll never know) and she manages to convince Pete of her drive and commitment to learning how to play drums.
Pete sees something in Sam that he hasn’t in most students and swallowing his pride, he takes Sam to a music school where he still has a connection, and encourages the school to take Sam in to their next music recital. He’s sure this will show others of her skill at such a young age and open some doors for her to get into music school.
But at school, Sam has a hard time holder her temper and she hits someone with a drum mallet. The school principal wants to talk to Sam’s parents, but Sam erases the messages on the answering machine, hoping the principal will eventually let it go, but of course, instead it exacerbates the problem.
Author Mike Grosso clearly understands children at this middle school age. He writes in such a way that Sam’s actions and dialog feels so completely natural. Her wisdom, her eagerness, her hopes all reflect most junior high students I’ve known.
The idea of schools cutting the arts from curriculum is sadly a common occurrence around the country and Grosso very nicely shows us how this impacts the people who need it the most – the students. Especially those who can’t afford to take lessons or classes outside the public school system.
Grosso also touches on troubling home life for many students. He does this in a very direct manner, but with respect and without making it the focus of the book.
This was really a tremendous read. I have anywhere from five to a dozen active/open books on my various e-reading devices, but I was always wanting to read more in this book.
Looking for a good book? I Am Drums by Mike Grosso is a must-read for any middle-schooler frustrated with not getting the opportunities to grow in the areas that interest them. Read this book, then share it with a student.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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I am Drums
author: Mike Grosso
publisher: Clarion Books
hardcover, 256 pages