Nearly 25 years after her death, the musical origin and cultural impact of Mexican American performer Selena Quintanilla are celebrated.
The story of Selena, as the singer and songwriter is still known, has been told before but not for so young an audience. López splits the difference between a fawning tribute and a straightforward recounting of accomplishments by working hard to paint the picture of the artist’s childhood and what led to her musical achievements. Amid Escobar’s exceptionally detailed illustrative work, it’s made clear how both the Quintanilla family’s immersion in music and Selena’s enduring work ethic led to her band’s success. There’s a lot of text in the book, but it’s smartly framed within two-page spreads, and very little of it feels extraneous. Fans new to Selena’s work may be surprised to learn that she was not a native speaker when she began performing in Spanish and that early in her career, sexism within the Tejano tradition was an issue. The artwork captures clothing and home furnishings of the time, such as Selena’s cassette tapes, her father’s guayabera shirts, and the singer’s iconic stage costumes. Not surprisingly, there’s not much dwelling on the circumstances of the singer’s murder other than an explainer page and a mention in a timeline in the backmatter, which also offers other cultural context. The simultaneously publishing Spanish edition is a solid and careful translation preserving information, context, and nuance.
A worthy picture-book primer on the Queen of Tejano music. (Picture book/biography. 6-9)