Tito Puente, Mambo King (Rey del Mambo) – Monica Brown

Image from amazon.com


  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 3
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What’s this?)
  • Series: Pura Belpre Honor Books – Illustration Honor
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Rayo; Bilingual edition (March 5, 2013)
  • Language: English/Spanish
  • ISBN-10: 0061227838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061227837

EXCERPT from Booklist:
“¡Tum Tica! ¡Tum Tica! The dancers twirled, the lights swirled, and the mambo went on and on.” Like so many of Brown’s biographies, such as Waiting for the Biblioburro (2011) and Side by Side/Lado a lado: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez/La historia de Dolores Huerta y César Chávez (2009), Tito’s story introduces readers to a vibrant Latino figure. As a baby, Puente made music with pots and pans, and he later grew up to fulfill his dreams as a musician and beloved bandleader. Award-winning illustrator López brings Tito’s story to life in vibrant acrylic salsa reds and oranges, which are splashed behind every shake of Tito’s hips and wink of his eyes. The swirling, whirling compositions add to the text’s rhythmic beat. To continue the rumba after Tito’s story has ended, the last page of the book offers a simple melody to play on its own or alongside the book. An author’s note (in both English and Spanish) sheds more light on Puente’s life. Grades K-3. –Angie Zapata

Rationale for Inclusion:
Bilingual books offer an enriching, horizon-expanding experience to young readers and create cognitive connections. This book is a lively biography about Puente, set to musical rhythms. Introduces topics like genres of music and dance, reading music, and musicians.

Bonus: Learn more about the author, book and artist here.


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