Samba! The Heartbeat of a Community

Ailton Nunes's Musical Journey

Even as a toddler, Ailton Nunes was drawn to the joyful, energizing sounds of samba music, with its clinks, bongs, and bangs filling the air. It was part of his heritage and practically the heartbeat of his Mangueira neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But samba was more than music; it was a way to connect with the past and dream of the future. And samba united not only Ailton’s neighborhood—it united all of Brazil, especially at the annual Carnaval festival with its samba parades and competition. The samba school in Ailton’s neighborhood was his home away from home. He was mesmerized by the drummers, the bateria, and dreamed of joining their ranks when he got older. And with hard work and determination, Ailton not only joins the Mangueira bateria, he helps lead them to victory at the Carnaval festival.

Vibrant, colorful artwork from Brazilian artist André Ceolin brings to life the story of samba director Mestre Ailton Nunes, who followed his passion and his dreams, and continues to share the magic of samba today.

Format List Price Your Price Qty
On pre-order until 07/01/2024 $18.99 $18.99
Interest Level Grade 1 - Grade 4
Reading Level Grade 2
ATOS Reading Level
Guided Reading Level
Language English
Publisher Sleeping Bear Press
Available Formats Hardcover (9781534112957), PDF (9781668945230), Hosted ebook (9781668945742)
Copyright 2024
Number of Pages 40
Dimensions 9 x 11
Graphics Full-color illustrations

Author: Philip Hoelzel

Philip Hoelzel is an outdoors enthusiast, baseball fan, and samba percussionist. Born and raised near Chicago, he now lives in Austin, Texas, where he performs with the Austin Samba School, a percussion and dance group that introduced him to the subject of this book, Mestre Ailton Nunes. Philip holds a teaching certification and is fluent in both Spanish and Portuguese. He hopes Mestre Ailton’s story inspires readers to embrace the joy of samba!

Illustrator: André Ceolin

André Ceolin is a self-taught illustrator from Brazil, who started sketching when he was a child. By that time, he loved to draw on the reams of paper his father used to bring home from work. André worked in advertising and in the pharmaceutical field for several years, but as a young father he was drawn to the color and spontaneity of the art in children’s books. He has now illustrated more than thirty books. To know more about him and his work, visit

Educational front/back matter
Original artwork
Full-color illustrations