The story of Rosita Dolores Alverio—best known today as Rita Moreno—a girl from Puerto Rico who loved to sing and dance.
At a young age, Rosita leaves her island home with her mother to settle in New York City. Her new school is a “fortress of brick” where she is teased for “her accent, darker skin, and curly hair.” In order to speak back to the bullies, Rosita practices until her inglés is perfect; this tenacity will continue throughout her life. She starts dancing lessons at 6, and it is soon clear that “onstage, she is home.” As her dancing and acting careers progress, gender and ethnic stereotypes pen her in. She must put on a fake accent to play stereotypically exotic parts. Finally, the role of a strong Puerto Rican woman comes, and it is hers: Anita in West Side Story. For this she wins the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, the first Latinx performer to ever win an Oscar. It is here that the story ends, though the backmatter includes an author’s note and timeline that show that Rosita—now Rita—continues a life of professional successes and lifelong political activism. Espinosa’s illustrations are as vibrant as the character he portrays. Rosita and her mother have beige skin and black hair, and the New Yorkers are multiethnic, but the people—mostly men—that surround her in Hollywood are White.
An inspiring account of a woman who followed her dreams.(Picture book/biography. 4-8)