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Friday, September 28, 2018

Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World, written by Gary Golio and illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez. Henry Holt and Company, Macmillan, Raincoast. 2018. $24.99 ages 10 and up

"At ten, Carlos is now ready to play for turistas, out on the streets of Tijuana. He dresses in a cowboy outfit and teams up with two other boys, but finds little joy in the music or the violin. Is he nothing more than a trained monkey, playing the same tired tunes day after day for a handful of coins? Listening to the radio one morning, Carlos is struck by a sound that hits him  right in the chest."

Carlos Santana grows up in a house filled with music. His father's mariachi band provides financial support for the family; although he must often travel to find work. When his father is home, he begins to teach his
young son to play the violin, in hopes that he will one day be a member of the band. Carlos does not love the lessons or the violin. But, his father is persistent that he will learn and eventually play for others in the band and as a street musician.

When Carlos hears American blues on the radio, it is the music of his soul. He loves the honesty of it and wants to be like his new heroes, B.B. King and Muddy Waters. His father is not pleased. Carlos is disheartened and no longer plays the violin. So when his father travels to San Francisco for work, his mother takes him to see a blues band in Tijuana. She watches his spirit lift and relays the story to his father, who relents and sends Carlos an electric guitar. It is the beginning of a long and illustrious career. Carlos fuses the music of Mexico with blues, jazz and rock to establish himself as an innovative and much honored musician. 

Here's one of my favorite Santana videos:

This is a wonderful picture book biography that blends text and art in beautiful ways. It is the story of Carlos' childhood, and gives young readers who love music a chance to see the development of a musician who has made a huge impact throughout his life, playing the music of his heart.

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