Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate
Author: Gary Golio
Illustrator: Rudy Gutierrez
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
From the womb, Santana’s family believed he had a great musical destiny—Cristalino, his grandmother called him. But Carlos’s father’s traditional mariachi couldn’t compete with the way the blues played on his soul. A journey from Jalisco to Tijuana to San Francisco produced a used electric guitar that led Santana to marry the blues, rock and roll, and traditional Mexican and mariachi music in a brand new sound that captivates hearers from Woodstock until today.
Vibrant illustrations draw attention from the words to the underlying story, perhaps rendering the written portion superfluous. Indeed, although the structure of the book suggests this a children’s book, the content written appeals more to a middle grade reader. The story touches on, but doesn’t elaborate on, themes such as poverty and the patriarchy, which may be evidence of an underdeveloped plot. Lastly, although a scene set in a cantina is included in the book, it is understated and appropriate for children.