By Laura Ennis, BK Story Voyager Librarian
My Name is Celia
By Monica Brown
(for readers in grades K-3)
Monica Brown and Rafael Lopez bring the story of the Grammy award winning singer Celia Cruz to life. In “My Name is Celia,” Brown weaves Celia’s story in both English and Spanish, and Lopez captures Cruz’s vivaciousness in illustrating her unique vibrancy, distinct costumes, and fanciful hair styles.
The reader travels with Celia Cruz through her life journey: her birth in Havana, Cuba in 1924; discovering the joy music brought when she sang with her family; a teacher’s suggestion that she use her voice to empower people; her rise to fame in the ‘50s with Sonora Matancera, the salsa band she formed with her husband; the reason why she would shout “Azucar!” before she started to sing.
Brown’s writing of Celia’s story has rhythm and energy, which brings the sound of salsa music to life, “Boom boom boom! Beat the congas!” as we enter into the world of Celia Cruz. The bilingual text gives the reader further entrance into the world of salsa. By using first-person, Brown captures Celia’s spirit via her exclamations and the rhythmic words that convey a musical beat.
If you’d like to open your child to the musical culture and life of an important figure from Cuba, “My Name is Celia” is a great book to read!