Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Queen of Tejano Music: Selena

Queen of Tejano Music: Selena

#Parentalfailure

In my household, Selena is having a BIG moment. During a week-long visit with their Corpus Christi cousins this summer, my older two children were introduced to Selena Quintanilla Perez and her music. After watching the movie featuring Jennifer Lopez and visiting the standard Selena sights in Corpus Christi, TX, my kids became fans. While my husband and I grew up listening to Selena y Los Dinos and still remember vividly when she was taken from this world too early by “she-who-will-not-be-named,” we never really played her music around the house for our children to hear. FACEPALM!

After realizing how utterly unacceptable our children’s lack of education regarding Tejano music’s most honored and cherished female figure, my husband and I bought the movie on iTunes and created the appropriate Spotify playlists for all our kids to enjoy. Three months later, all five of our kids can recognize a Selena song and even our 1-year-old will bop up and down to “Biddi Biddi Bom Bom.” Our older two are now enjoying other artists like Ritchie Valens because, as I told them, before Selena, there was Ritchie.

Must-have Picture Book!

Of course, I couldn’t call myself a homeschool mama without buying a book to further my children’s appreciation of Selena. While there have been a number of notable picture books featuring figures in Hispanic history, perhaps there has not been one that has brought forth such overwhelming nostalgia to me as this new release from Little Bee Books called, Queen of Tejano Music: Selena (aff). 

Written by Silivia Lopez, Queen of Tejano Music: Selena is written as a picture book biography recommended for children ages 6-9 but it is easily enjoyable for tweens and teens, as my own teen and tween can attest. There is an appropriate amount of text to engage children about Selena’s life from her birth (she was an Easter baby!) until her death. There are also fun quotes from Selena herself such as this one from her early years in the music business: “If we got five or ten dollars,” Selena said, “we could go to Whataburger!”

The book also includes a timeline of Selena’s life and a few pages in the back with important contextual information called “A Little More About…” that includes pages of information about the following: 
  • Tejanos, Hispanics or Latinos, 
  • Tejano or Tex-Mex Music, 
  • Quinceaneras, 
  • Lake Jackson, Texas, 
  • Corpus Christi, Texas, 
  • Selena Behind the Scenes, 
  • Tragedy, 
  • and Remembering Selena.
What makes this picture book a MUST-have is not just the useful information, but the absolutely gorgeous illustrations. Illustrator Paola Escobar’s work is captivating and vibrant. There are so many tiny details in each two-page spread that you could look through this book many times and still find something new to look at. And just look at the cover art! Doesn’t it just take your breath away?!? The roses, Selena’s iconic purple costume, a microphone. I’m completely obsessed.

Queen of Tejano Music: Selena

Was Selena A Homeschooler?

The technical answer to this question is no. Selena, finished her education through “long-distance classes” which is another way of saying, she went to correspondence school so that she could study while touring and not have to worry about showing up to a brick and mortar school. But the idea of Selena being a homeschooler is intriguing, isn’t it? In fact, on the timeline, provided in the back of the picture book it says, “1984. Left middle school to tour with the band, now called Selena y Los Dinos. Began homeschool classes.” Awe. The book even used “homeschool” as one word not “home school” with a space in between which people who aren’t familiar with homeschooling call it in writing. 

While Selena could not have legally called herself a homeschooler at the time (homeschooling was not officially legalized in Texas until 1994 according to the Texas Homeschool Coalition) she certainly acquired her education in a manner that was unique and family-centric. The illustration on the page which describes Selena’s education has Selena, her siblings, and her parents all working together to help Selena with her work. There are books and notebooks, a calculator and a tea cup, pencils and markers all on the table. It looks like a normal homeschool day to me, but I’m totally biased. LOL! 

It is well documented that later in her career, Selena would speak at schools across Texas about the value of education. However, I can’t help but wonder, if homeschooling had been what it is now, would the Quintanillas have been a homeschooling family? Just one of so many questions we are left with one someone is taken so unexpectedly from this world.

Queen of Tejano: Selena is only available as a hardback book and I can understand that during these times, $18.99 might be a high price for a picture book. If this is the case, ask your library to buy it! In fact, even if you do buy this book for your family, ask your library to buy it anyway. This book is a treasure and for Hispanic Heritage Month, your entire community would benefit from having a library that has wonderful picture books like this in their collection.

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Stacie Servantes Farias is an Army wife and mom of 5 with a “very healthy” obsession for Snoopy, Disney movies, Audrey Hepburn, Dr. Pepper, Whataburger, books, and homeschooling. Originally from Mission, Texas, Stacie and her high-school sweetheart hubby live with their kids and dog in a different home every few years, because that is the military life. She has big plans to write a book exploring her theory that La Llorona drowned her children because they would take their socks off all over the house and then would complain that they never had clean ones! Stacie also thinks she is really funny, but she is mostly lame. 


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