- Selena by Silvia López
López, Silvia Selena; illus. by Paola Escobar. Little Bee, 2020 [48p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4998-0977-0 $18.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 3-5
Career triumph, romance, tragedy—the story of Selena Quintanilla, acclaimed queen of Tejano music, has it all, now chronicled in a picture-book bio aimed right at the middle-grade kids who, as she did, belt out songs into a hairbrush and know that their voices will take 'em to the top. In a running series of insets embedded into stylish design, López presents Selena as a girl constantly navigating borders and boundaries, embracing Tejano music despite pushback from its predominantly male musicians, learning to sing in Spanish when she spoke only English, bringing her Spanish-infused genre to a Mexican audience, styling up her act as a consummate show woman while adhering to her father's rules for behavior. Escobar visually infuses Selena's story with something of a mid-twentieth century vibe, which initially seems an odd choice for a late twentieth century performer. It works well, though, imparting a Barbie-esque glam that will resonate with many viewers' dress-up dreams—hot enough to rile the parents, but PG enough to seem attainable. Readers who don't know the details of Selena's murder will need to dig deep into the six pages of end matter to find more about Yolanda Saldívar's fatal attack, but the main narrative makes the star a compelling figure; this may sharpen kids' appetite for the upcoming Netflix bio-series.