Tito Puente, Mambo King /Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo

(2013)
Tito Puente, Mambo King /Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo

This bilingual English/Spanish book celebrates the life of the great Latin Jazz musician Ernest “Tito” Puente (1923-2000).  Readers learn about Tito in different stages of his life: as a baby (in New York City of Puerto Rican parents), banging out rhythms on pots and pans; as a kid drumming and dancing his way to talent show success (but still finding time to play baseball with the neighborhood kids); as a young man in the Navy serving his country while developing his gift of playing and writing music; and as a professional musician who wins fame, fortune, love and admiration by using his award-winning talents, realizing his dream of becoming the leader of his own orchestra, and inspiring others to dance, play, and enjoy music.  The story is punctuated by a catchy rumba rhythm/ritmo de rumba--¡Tum Tica! ¡Tac Tic! ¡Tum Tic! ¡Tom Tom!- which is also notated in the back of the book.  It lends to the jubilant feel of the story, as do the vibrant, fanciful illustrations.  Artist López uses bright acrylic paints in a wide variety of colors (mixed in recycled Mexican salsa jars!), on sanded boards, distressed for a warm, cozy, textured look.  His portrayal of Tito is of a happy kid in love with the rhythm of life, who grew up being able to keep his love alive, and share it with people the world over. The book also serves as a great introduction to many of the Latin instruments that helped create the unique sound of Puente’s orchestra, as well as the names of other musical legends of Hispanic heritage, including salsa singer Celia Cruz and guitarist Carlos Santana.

Incidentally, the author and artist have won the Puré Belpré Honor Book for Illustration, and the Américas Award for Children's Literature, both for an earlier collaboration, My name is Celia : the life of Celia Cruz = Me llamo Celia : la vida de Celia Cruz.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 to October 15, celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.  Celebrate with these and other books from the library’s Spanish Language Collection.  And to find Tito's music on CD at the library, click here.

Recommended for ages 4-8.

 

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