A worthy, sparkling addition to the long list of Selena Quintanilla biographies.

SING WITH ME

THE STORY OF SELENA QUINTANILLA

The story of Tejano legend Selena Quintanilla is made accessible as the tale of a young girl who works hard to share her musical gifts with the world.

In relating Selena’s biography, some mythologizing is hard to avoid. The late singer, who was killed at the age of 23 in 1995, has become inseparable from her fame. Corpus Christi native López smartly focuses on the road that got Selena to her success and all the work and study that went into overcoming genre, racial, and gender divides in the music industry. She gets the details and tone right, whether it’s in capturing her subject’s passion for performing or simply sprinkling in Spanish words and phrases without overexplaining them. (“Papel picado hung from the ceiling [of the family restaurant] and the scent of caldo and charro beans filled the air.”) The story is told chronologically, but it never feels like an A-to-B-to-C list of achievements. Instead, it works better than most biographies of Selena to explain her connection to audiences and to humanize the young singer. Martinez’s illustrations capture the Quintanilla family’s loving moments and convey extra information with the layering in of postcards, banners, street signs, and lyrics. A Spanish-language edition, translated by Carmen Tafolla, is equally on target, with careful phrasing and a warmth in tone. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

A worthy, sparkling addition to the long list of Selena Quintanilla biographies. (author’s note, discography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11095-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston...

BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET

A memorable, lyrical reverse-chronological walk through the life of an American icon.

In free verse, Cline-Ransome narrates the life of Harriet Tubman, starting and ending with a train ride Tubman takes as an old woman. “But before wrinkles formed / and her eyes failed,” Tubman could walk tirelessly under a starlit sky. Cline-Ransome then describes the array of roles Tubman played throughout her life, including suffragist, abolitionist, Union spy, and conductor on the Underground Railroad. By framing the story around a literal train ride, the Ransomes juxtapose the privilege of traveling by rail against Harriet’s earlier modes of travel, when she repeatedly ran for her life. Racism still abounds, however, for she rides in a segregated train. While the text introduces readers to the details of Tubman’s life, Ransome’s use of watercolor—such a striking departure from his oil illustrations in many of his other picture books—reveals Tubman’s humanity, determination, drive, and hope. Ransome’s lavishly detailed and expansive double-page spreads situate young readers in each time and place as the text takes them further into the past.

A picture book more than worthy of sharing the shelf with Alan Schroeder and Jerry Pinkney’s Minty (1996) and Carole Boston Weatherford and Kadir Nelson’s Moses (2006). (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2047-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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