Hispanic Star: Celia Cruz

Roaring Brook. Sept. 2022. 128p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250828125.
Gr 2-6–A lyrical, informative chapter book biography of Celia Cruz, the Queen of Salsa. Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso was born into a large family in Cuba in 1925. Originally intending to be a schoolteacher, she was convinced by her cousins to pursue a music career. The performer rose to fame in the 1950s and was known for singing Afro-Cuban genres, such as rumba, guarachas, and salsa. The slim text presents an awe-filled account of the icon’s close family ties, illustrious career, and, in the wake of Castro’s rise to power, eventual exile from her native country. Her many accomplishments are detailed chronologically, and the authors often invite readers to reflect on the personal and political happenings that shaped Cruz’s life. Tongue-in-cheek commentary will engage tweens as they learn about Castro’s vendetta against the singer for not performing at his political events. When he denied Cruz’s request to attend her mother’s funeral, the authors share: “Dictators are nothing if not petty.” Sidebars pepper the work, including ones that give further context to the Cuban Revolution, the types of Cuban coffee, and other cultural touchstones. Beguez’s friendly illustrations add to the narrative’s charm, projecting the joy and glamour that followed the performer wherever she went.
VERDICT A must-purchase for all nonfiction shelves. Browsable and report-ready, this series debut brings the sweet story of la Reina de la Salsa to life. ¡Azúúúcar!

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