Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras – by Duncan Tonatiuh
This book tells the story of José Guadalupe Posada, the Mexican artist whose calavera drawings (which feature skeletons doing all sorts of daily activities) are now associated with The Day of the Dead festivities. The book goes into Posada’s life, the process of lithography and engraving that he used, and the ways that he used his calavera drawings to underline societal issues that he saw around him. My son and I learned quite a bit about Mexican culture and history through this book — it covers everything from the 1888 flood in León to the meaning behind the Day of the Dead to the 1910 Mexican Revolution. At first I was hesitant to pick up this book because skeletons have such a frightening connotation in the United States. But I found the book to be well done, and most of the calavera drawings were so humorous that my son didn’t find them to be frightening at all.
Off We Go to Mexico – by Laurie Krebs
Featuring a lilting, rhyming text and brightly colored illustrations, this book tells the story of a visit to Mexico. We see mariachi bands, ancient Aztec pyramids, and the winter home of the Monarch butterflies. Each page also features a number of Spanish words (which relate to the illustrations for that page), and their English translations. This book also includes a wonderful overview of Mexican history in the back.
Adelita – by Tomie de Paola
This Mexican Cinderella story features no pumpkin or glass slippers, but the main elements of the story are still there. The young Adelita is helped by her kindly nanny so that she can attend a fiesta thrown in honor of the son in a local wealthy family. A bright red shawl replaces the glass slipper as the token by which the young man finds his love after the party is over. The bright warm illustrations give a wonderful aura to this tale, and Mexican cultural elements can be found in both the text and the illustrations.
M is for Mexico – by Flor de Maria Cordero
Introducing an element of Mexican culture for each letter of the alphabet, this book covers topics ranging from Aztec pyramids to traditional festivals and food. The bright photographs are lovely, and help to make the aspects of culture introduced in this book more real for children.