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Dynamic text goes hand in hand with vibrant, motion-filled illustrations to tell the story of the Latin sound that swept through New York and then the country in the 1940s and ’50s. Dancers whirl and twirl across double-page spreads as people from different neighborhoods followed the 1940s rules: They danced but did not mix. “Italians danced in Italian places,” and so it was with Puerto Ricans, Black people, Jews, and so forth. “Then came a band called Machito and His Afro-Cubans” with “a brand-new sound called Latin Jazz.” It “was music for the head, the heart, and the hips,” and everyone danced to it—but they still did not dance together. Then, “in 1948, the Palladium Ballroom broke the rules” by opening its doors to everyone. People came from all over the city and listened and danced to this bold new music that transcended ethnic and racial lines: the mambo. In an author’s note, readers learn that a number of the characters introduced are real people who went on to become well-known mambo dancers. In keeping with the title of the book and the spirit of the dance, cast members represent different ethnicities and races. The book publishes simultaneously in Spanish, with a translation by Georgina Lázaro.

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