Sunday, February 10, 2013

The King of Mambo arrives March 5th!

It was serious fun filming this video book trailer for Tito Puente Mambo King/Rey del Mambo [Harper Collins 2013] at my loft/studio with author Monica Brown. Together we published our very first children's book back in 2004, My Name is Celia/Me Llamo Celia. As you can imagine we put so much passion and effort into it and then we got to actually meet each other at the Pura Belpré honor and Americas Award celebrations. When our initial efforts were recognized it solidified our friendship and launched two new careers in the world of children books.
Reuniting to tell the story of Mambo King Tito Puente has been exciting and in the book trailer we hoped to create a sense of the dance between a writer and artist as the words and images comingle.

I had the great opportunity to create the Latin Music Legend stamp celebrating Tito Puente for the United States Postal Service. During that time I read everything I could find about the godfather of salsa.  I poured over old videos of his exhilarating performances, scanned old photos and immersed myself fully into his music.

Tito Puente Jr. at a stamp release celebration

That stamp gave me the chance to meet Tito Puente Jr. and our conversations reinforced my notions of his father's electric personality. I learned that Celia Cruz was his godmother. I showed him the illustrations and genuinely appreciated the support of Tito Puente Jr. for this book " Now his name and likeness will reach a brand new group of young fans who will appreciate his genius and talent".

Before he could walk, Tito was making music. He banged spoons and forks on pots and pans, windowsills and cans.
He was so loud his neighbors in Spanish Harlem said, "Get that boy some Music lessons!" 

On weekends Tito played magical mambos and beautiful cha-chas with different bands at the Palladium Ballroom 

Sketching Tito

He made music with Celia Cruz, Santana and La Lupe.

The dancers twirled, the lights swirled, and the mambo went on and on...

I'm looking forward to connecting with children about Tito's unforgettable legacy and vibrant music.

1 comment:

Claudia Meléndez Salinas said...

Hello Rafael,

I saw your illustrations for Our California, and I fell in love with your work. Then I looked you up and I just saw what you've done for the King of Mambo, and it's just amazing.

How does one approach an illustrator for book ideas? I have one I'd like to pitch to you?

Thanks and all the best.