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Literary Las Vegas

"Joaquin's Cajón," written by North Las Vegas author Ramona Esparza and illustrated by North Las Vegas artist Lois Esparza, follows the adventures of a young American boy sent to spend a summer in Spain with his uncle.

Joaquin dreads the trip, but soon learns to love the country through the magic of the rhythms of flamenco. In particular, he is fascinated by the sounds of the cajón, a wooden box seated musicians use as a percussion instrument.

Esparza, an educator for more than a decade, was inspired to write the story after one of her many trips abroad.

Excerpt from "Joaquin's Cajón"

"You must understand, Joaquin, the most important lesson of flamenco is to follow your heart beat. It is the compás, the steady rhythm of the dance that is constant. If you are not focused on the compás, then all you make is noise, not music," Tio Manolo stated.

Joaquin gained the courage to move from palmas to playing the cajón. He practiced for many hours, which turned to days and then to weeks. His most patient teacher was Tio Manolo. He spent many hours correcting Joaquin's mistakes and explaining the exact positioning of his fingers and hands on the cajón, keeping the steady compás.

Joaquin no longer yearned to call home every week or even thought much about going home. He was consumed with his new-found passion flamenco.