Tito Puente: Mambo King/Rey del Mambo

By Monica Brown • Illustrated by Rafael López
Translated by Adriana Domínguez
Rayo/HarperCollins • 2013 • 32 pages
Hardcover ($17.99)
ISBN: 978-0061227837
Ages 4-8

Monica Brown and Rafael López (the duo behind the award-winning My Name is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz/Me llamo Celia: La vida de Celia Cruz) have teamed up again to create an illustrated biography of one of America’s most important and beloved Latino musicians: Tito Puente, Mambo King/Rey del Mambo. This book captivates readers with its lively energy right from the cover, which portrays an enthusiastic Tito swept up in a whirlwind of music.

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While some of Brown’s past biographies have been of a length and depth appropriate for older school-age children, this title focuses on Tito’s lifelong passion for music rather than on presenting extensive information about his life. This keeps the text fast-paced and age-appropriate for a younger pre-school audience, which will delight in Lopez’s imaginative full-spread illustrations. Mamis, teachers and librarians will be thrilled to see that this bilingual title is of appropriate length to share with younger children in both languages! Additionally, Brown’s incorporation of repeated onomatopoeia invites readers and listeners to join in, tapping or chanting out the “¡Tum Tica! ¡Tac Tic! ¡Tum Tic! ¡Tom Tom!” as Tito and his friends make joyful music together.

A photo and further factual information about Tito are provided at the end, as well as a musical notation for the repeated rhythm. Playful and vibrant in both text and illustration, this title successfully keeps the spirit of Tito Puente alive for a whole new generation.

Reviewed by Katie Cunningham, Library Professional and Blogger, ¡Es Divertido Hablar Dos Idiomas!