Sunday, January 22, 2006
Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa
Chambers, Veronica. 2005. CELIA CRUZ, QUEEN OF SALSA. Ill. by Julie Maren. New York: Dial. ISBN 0803729707 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]
Reminiscing that in “In the fabled land of Havana, where rhythm grows, sweet and juicy, like oranges in Florida, there lived a girl. She looked like a girl and talked like a girl, but everyone who ever met her agreed, she sand like a bird,” Chamber’s lush picture book biography celebrates the life and art of Latin music icon, Celia Cruz.
Chambers chronicles Cruz’s life and career by offering a narrative rich in details. From her early life in Cuba to her rise as a world renowned Salsa singer, each detail works together to create a seamless lyrical tribute. Sprinkled throughout with Spanish words, Chamber’s narrative offers rich details of Celia’s life (neighbors begged Celia’s father to leave the family’s front door open because they found her voice to be “tan dulce, sweet like azucar”). Equally rich are Maren’s illustrations; the vibrant acrylic and collage art saturate the pages with dazzling hues of orange, red, yellow, and blue. Used throughout the book, images of flowers, birds, and music serve as a tie to Celia’s role as a “songbird” as well as her Cuban heritage. Chamber’s attention to source material is also noteworthy; she includes an extensive author’s note, a glossary for the Spanish terms used throughout the text, and a selected discography highlighting Cruz’s most well-known work.
After reading Celia Cruz’s biography, teens could write an “I Am” poem by analyzing information about her character from Chamber’s account. After completing the poem, they could illustrate the poem using details from the book or research photos available on the web.
Other books about female vocalists:
Ryan, Pam Munoz, WHEN MARIAN SANG. ISBN 0439269679
Freedman, Russell. THE VOICE THAT CHALLENGED A NATION: MARIAN ANDERSON AND THE STRUGGLE FOR EQUAL RIGHTS. ISBN 0899198627
Pinkney, Andrea Davis. ELLA FITZGERALD: THE TALE OF A VOCAL VIRTUOSA. ISBN 086805684
By Rose Brock