Who Was Selena?

Who Was Selena?
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
August 07, 2018
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As a young girl, Selena Quintanilla sang in a band called Selena y Los Dinos with her brother and sister. The family performed at fairs, weddings, quinceañeras, and on street corners in their native Texas. Selena learned how to sing in Spanish and soon became hugely popular within the Latino community--so much so that she became the best-selling Latin artist of the 1990s. Selena was poised to be a great success, but her life was cut short after being fatally wounded by the president of her fan club. Selena's contributions to music and fashion during her life made her one of the top Latin musicians in the 1990s, and readers will want to know more about the woman who introduced the world to Tejano music.

Editor review

1 review
Much Missed Tejano Star
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Learning Value
Born in 1971 in Texas, Selena Quintillana was raised by parents who thought it better if she didn't speak Spanish to try to avoid racial prejudice. Her father had a band, but couldn't earn enough money to support the family through music alone, so worked other jobs. He did, however, require all three of his children to pursue music. AB wrote songs and played bass, Suzette played drums, and Selena sang. Interestingly enough, since the family was singing Tejano style music, Selena had to learn to sing in Spanish! Soon, Selena's singing gained a lot of attention, and by the time she was in her teens, the group, Selena and Los Dinos, had recording contracts and air play on the radio. As she produced more and more albums, she also focused her energies on fashion design and some cosmetics. While she was very successful, there was a woman who insinuated herself into the family, Yolanda Saldivar, who caused problems and eventually ended up shooting and killing Selena in an argument when the singer was quite young. Thanks to her family and fans, Selena's spirit and music live on.
Good Points
The Who Was series is one that many young readers like because the books are short, heavily illustrated (although there are no photographs), and give a full picture of the person, even covering problems in the person's life with age appropriate coverage. I was not familiar with Selena's music, but feel like I have a good working understanding of her career after reading this book.

Aspiring singers will find Selena's hard work and progress towards her goal of having a career in music inspiring, and her family's struggles with prejudice in Texas are important to remember. There are good side notes about how the Corpus Christi, Texas telephone directories in the early part of 10th century list families' faces next to their phone numbers!

I'm glad to see that there are more biographies of Latine Americans being published; this series also has a title about singer Celia Cruz. I'm a big fan of collective biographies like Reynoso's Be Bold! Be Brave! 11 Latinas who made U.S. History or Nuestra América: 30 Inspiring Latinas/Latinos Who Have Shaped the United States by Sabrina Vourvoulias, but this deeper exploration of individuals' careers will be great for reading and for research when biography projects are assigned in schools.
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