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Archive for December 9th, 2016

bongo

by Sam Juliano

Eric Velasquez, the author and illustrator of Looking for Bongo, provides an untitled afterward at the end of the book that defines “Bongo” on two fronts.  First, the word in solo terms is “a large African forest antelope”; secondly the word expands to “Bongo drums” which is framed as “a pair of small drums that are played with the hands” and which originated from Cuba.  The captivating aural temper of the word makes it especially appealing for a young child looking for a firm declaration of an emotional bond.  For the book’s creator, the musical connection to bongo is clear enough as asserted on the dedication page, where Velasquez proudly mentions that his father fulfilled his dream to become a musician.  Throughout the book there is ample evidence that the parents love art, and are passing along this propensity to their children.  There seems to be little doubt that this episode -played out over thirty-two pages- is biographical, with an even money chance that it may have occurred exactly as or with some minor modifications.  Either way Looking for Bongo is a story that resonates with universal truths, one serving as a microcosm of events that every family and its individual members must experience, and by extension grow from it. (more…)

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