BCCB: “As Wood and Tonatiuh Demonstrate in This Picture-Book Biography, Being Part of Juan Garcia Esquivel Fandom Could Be Insanely Cool"


Fantabulous review of Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist in the University of Illinois’s Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Here’s a taste: 

A kid’s got to be careful in admitting a taste for grandparents’ music. Mick Jagger is acceptable, and Aretha Franklin’s not too embarrassing—and as Wood and Tonatiuh demonstrate in this picture-book biography, being part of Juan Garcia Esquivel fandom could be insanely cool…. Wood describes not only the quirkiness of his instrumentation but also how Esquivel arrived on the scene just in time to take advantage of new recording techniques and stereophonic sound separation, and how he was able to make a home in a range of sonic media, from Las Vegas stage shows, to television and movies, and of course, vinyl…. For kids who haven’t heard Esquivel, they’ll need more incentive, and Wood brings it. Her closing note focuses on the 1990s resurgence of interest in Esquivel’s recordings, which segues happily into the current rediscovery of the pleasures of vinyl. Tonatiuh reprises the Maya-influenced style audiences may recognize from Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras, but he infuses its formality with some freewheeling text and swirling motif design suggestive of Sean Qualls. The Resources page...concentrates on websites of Esquivel interviews and YouTube performances virtually guaranteed to secure the late orchestra leader a fresh following. Let the downloads begin.

Reviewer Elizabeth Bush totally gets Esquivel's music, and exactly why this book was written about him—zu-zu-POW!!!

SLJ Starred Review for Esquivel!—Best Book-Birthday Present Ever


Feliz cumpleaños to Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist

Today illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh and I are celebrating the book’s official release—its book birthday—with some fabulous news: School Library Journal has given it their coveted starred review! So exciting! Here’s a taste:

Much as Juan García Esquivel (1918–2002) made a great contribution to music history, this title is an important addition to music biography collections….The text explores how Esquivel’s love of sound led to new ways of making music, most notably in his pioneering of stereo sound and lounge music. Tonatiuh’s illustrations are lively and colorful—a perfect match for Esquivel’s personality and work….A beautiful addition to music biography collections for upper elementary students.

Esquivel SPAN FC v2 150

Couldn’t have asked for a better book-birthday gift!

Esquivel! is available in both English and Spanish editions. 

And teachers, definitely check out the Common Core-aligned educator’s guide created by literacy advocate Ed Spicer for fun, fresh, and exciting ways to use Esquivel! in the classroom!

Booklist on Esquivel!: "Incorporates Enough Sound Effects to Make Esquivel Proud"

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Hooray! Another fantastic review for Esquivel! This time from Booklist (excerpt):

Juan García Esquivel created out-of-this world sounds, and Wood (formerly VanHecke) and Tonatiuh capture the fascinating story of Esquivel’s musical talent in this picture-book biography….Wood’s story provides insight to the the making of a magnificent musician and incorporates enough sound effects (wheedy-whee!, blap!, bowm-bowm!) to make Esquivel proud. Energetic collage illustrations complement the text by allowing readers to see Esquivel’s sounds and his love for music. Sibert Award winner Tonatiuh (Funny Bones, 2015) draws in his well-known style inspired by the Mixtec codes, where characters are represented in profile.

Thanks so much, Booklist—hope kiddos will dig it too!

© Susan Wood 2021