Delightful, true children’s tale of the San Antonio River Walk
This is the true story of Carla Maria presenting flowers to her grandmother, singer Rosita Fernandez, when the bridge at San Antonio’s open air Arneson River Theater was named Rosita’s Bridge—not just a bridge across a river but a bridge between cultures.
Rosita tells Carla Maria of immigrating from Mexico in a family of sixteen children, of her father and uncles helping to build the River Walk in the late 1930s, and how she became a well-known singer on stage, television and film. Before the mayor and the archbishop speak, Carla Maria explores the world-famous River Walk, with its tropical plants, riverside restaurants, stairway to the Alamo, and narrow arching bridges, including one with a special meaning.
“Based on a true story . . . this tale focuses on Rosita Fernandez who became known as “San Antonio’s First Lady of Song” during a career that spanned more than 50 years. Writing in the voice of Carla Maria, Rosita’s granddaughter, Fisher sets her story during the day in 1982 that culminated in Rosita's public swan song and a bridge across the San Antonio River that was dedicated in her honor. While her granddaughter flips through a family photo album, Rosita discusses her childhood and her debut as a performer, singing with her musician uncles as they traveled through South Texas. The woman guides Maria Carla through the streets of the city, sharing anecdotes about the history of San Antonio, where her large family (she was the ninth of 16 children) moved from Mexico when Rosita was young. Balancing sepia-toned facsimiles of vintage photographs with boldly hued depictions of past and present San Antonio (many of which, according to a concluding note, are also based on photos), Whitehead's art effectively evokes the narrative's setting and its varying time frames.”
— Publishers Weekly
“In the heart of San Antonio's historic district is a tiny jewel of an outdoor theater. The stage is approached by a little humpbacked stone bridge with a plaque identifying it as “Rosita’s Bridge.” Through the device of reminiscing through an old photo album, Rosita’s granddaughter tells the true story of the singer Rosita Fernandez. Born in Mexico, she journeyed to Texas with her family. They worked in construction jobs during the day and traveled locally to perform their music in the evenings. Fernandez’s fame grew over the years as she sang the traditional songs of Mexico and South Texas, spanning the cultures of the city. Her many performances at the Arneson River Theatre brought her the honor of having the bridge named for her. The story is an interesting one. The pictures are rendered in a pleasing style and palette.”
— School Library Journal