Celia Cruz Queen of Salsa

Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa By Veronica Chambers, Illustrated by Julie Maren (2005) – paperback

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Author Veronica Chambers has created a beautiful tribute to one of the most legendary, revolutionary entertainers of all time, Celia Cruz! Her author’s note at the end is so poignant, I recommend reading it first before starting the story. As an Afrolatina herself, she explains how Celia served as her childhood role model. Celia’s success taught her that “despite the common media images, Latinas come in all colors.”

This biography truly captures the vibrancy and effervescence of Celia’s career. Chambers transforms Celia’s story into a loving ode, combining biographical anecdotes and direct quotes with poetic verse. “The bird girl grew into a princess and the princess became a much beloved queen.” The author’s admiration for Celia was felt throughout the story. For those who are unfamiliar with this legendary Cubana, dubbed the Queen of Salsa, this book will serve a sweet introduction! For us long time fans, this book is wonderful supplement to music we grew up listening to and are now sharing with our kids! ¡Azúcar!

Julie Maren’s color palette mirrors the fabulous colors in the outfits that made Celia so popular.

Additional content includes the aforementioned author’s note, a glossary of Spanish words used in the text, and a selected discography from the most distinct periods in her career.

Take-away message: As the author notes, Latinas come in all colors! Celia revolutionized the Latin music industry with her unique look and talent, and flamboyant flair. At the beginning of her career, many didn’t know what to make of this dark-skinned girl who spoke Spanish and was singing Latin music. The initial pushback made Celia question her ambitions. She almost quit. But her voice and talent ultimately won everyone over. And she went on to become a worldwide phenomenon! 

TAGS: Cuban, Latinx, Black, Afrolatin, female lead, Notable POC, paperback

Learn more about Celia: “Why is Celia Cruz called the Queen of Salsa?” 

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