BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Festival of Bones | El Festival de las Calaveras: The Little-Bitty Book for the Day of the Dead by Luis San Vicente, translated by John William Byrd and Bobby Byrd

Festival of BonesWhat? Tomorrow is Halloween? Next thing you know, turkeys will trot and oversized bearded men will be out walking the streets. Hard to believe 2014 is almost over already !

But no future-tripping! Well, just for a day, because you’ll want to be ready to share this delightful “Little-Bitty” gem with your young ‘uns tomorrow and into the weekend. First published in 1999 in its native Mexico, El Festival migrated north of the border in a bilingual edition in 2002, ushered by culturally expansive boutique indie Cinco Puntos Press. This updated paperback edition has arrived on shelves this month just in time to chill young spines and tickle old bones.

The Day of the Dead – Día de los Muertos in Spanish – happens October 31 through November 2 each year. Skeletons aside, it’s a time of celebration to honor those who have passed before us. “They are coming and they are going / And you see them passing by. / They are walking over here, / They are walking over there … / These are the dead. / How happy they are,” El Festival opens. See? Mexico City-based artist Luis San Vicente’s strumming, flying, dancing, singing poem is a beckoning invitation to join the skeletons in having a grand old time.

At poem’s end, you’ll find a bit of history all the way back to the Aztecs, and lots of explanations and suggestions on how to ensure your celebration is filled with lively delights. “Just remember, though: … it is a happy and social occasion. It’s a party, not a funeral,” the notes remind. Rely on your happy memories to be your guide as you build your own altar, and then let your imagination go wild as you make your own Pan de Muerto, and let’s not forget the sugar skulls. Here’s to shaking up those bones …!

Readers: Children

Published: 1999 (Mexico), 2002 (United States), 2014 (reprint)


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