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SING WITH ME by Diana López Kirkus Star


The Story of Selena Quintanilla

by Diana López ; illustrated by Teresa Martínez

Pub Date: July 6th, 2021
ISBN: 978-0-593-11095-9
Publisher: Dial Books

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)