Monday, February 23, 2015

Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa by Veronica Chambers

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Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa
by Veronica Chambers
illustrated by Julie Maren

One of the most delightful children's biographies in our family library is this tribute to Afro-Latina salsa singer, Celia Cruz. Beautifully written, Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa (aff link) sweeps us away into Celia's childhood and her subsequent rise to fame. You'll learn about what she was like as a little girl, how the country felt when she became the lead singer of their favorite band, and with whom she eventually found love. Even as a young girl, her amazing voice stood out and captured the attention of her family and friends. Did you know that her neighbors used to gather outside her home and beg her father to leave the door open so that they could hear her singing lullabies to the younger children?

Veronica Chamber's writing style is vibrant and engaging. Take a look at the opening sentence...
In the fabled land of Havana, where rhythm grows, sweet and juicy, like oranges in Florida, there lived a girl. 
The illustrations are warm and bold and even a bit flamboyant...just like the singer herself. Sometimes I find myself flipping through the book just to look at the pictures.

Even though the story is written in such a way that both adults and children will enjoy it, Veronica has included a section of notes at the end that not only shares her own experience (she is an Afro-Latina, too,  who was born in Panama) and gives more detailed insight into Celia's life. There's also a glossary and - eee! - a selected discography!!!

This would be a wonderful book to supplement studies on Celia Cruz, Black History Month, Afro-Latinos, salsa, Havana, Cuba, musicians, singers, Women's History Month, famous Latinas, aspirations, talent, encouragement, and more.

This book is written in English with Spanish words sprinkled throughout.

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