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Festival of Bones / El Festival de las Calaveras: The Little-Bitty Book for the Day of the Dead (English and Spanish Edition) Hardcover – September 1, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Originally published in Mexico, this bilingual primer on the Day of the Dead may be best suited to those already familiar with the festival. For the uninitiated, an afterword explains that Mexicans celebrate el d¡a de los muertes from October 31 to November 2. Feasts, music and visits to gravesites help the living honor the dead, who are believed by many to return for the festivities. Vicente, a respected Mexico City artist, creates charming skeletal characters; their playfulness accentuates the holiday's merriment. Rendered in a style reminiscent of scratchboard illustrations, his bony subjects dance in top hats and ride bicycles amid a fetchingly surreal world. For "Pascual's skeleton sings a song/ Without any pain or dread/ Although half a leg is really gone/ Still a flower sits upon his head," he pictures the skeletal fellow balanced on one leg atop a crescent moon and a wide-eyed owl as his audience. But for norte¤os, the macabre content may not translate well. The text abruptly begins with a deceased guitarist crooning, "The skeletons are going along the road to the graveyard.... These are the dead. How happy they are." They may be further confused by a shifting narrative voice and non sequitur conclusion. But for those immersed in Mexican culture, this neatly designed square volume offers a fresh look at a familiar subject. Ideas on how to honor the dead and recipes for the holiday feast are included. Ages 4-10.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review


"Overall, the illustrations are comical, and not at all frightening, which will enable children of all ages to enjoy the book. A wonderful addition to bilingual collections in elementary and public libraries." —Críticas

"For those immersed in Mexican culture, this neatly designed square volume offers a fresh look at a familiar subject." —Publisher's Weekly

"His remarkable little poem, given in both the original Spanish and a rather free English translation, conjures up merry skeletons enjoying their special day but doesn't shrink from the facts." —Washington Post Book World

"The text moves with a lively dance meter. San Vicente's artwork, done in black outlines with touches of warm color, is just sinister enough to produce a little frisson, but not so frightening as to be off putting to young readers and listeners."—School Library Journal

"Gleeful rhythmic and occasionally rhyming verse in English and Spanish detail the peregrinations of the skeletons…this evokes the spirit of the Festival in the way that kids will appreciate. " —Center for Children's Books Bulletin

"This is a dual-language book that will be enjoyed by Spanish and English readers alike. Teachers will find it useful for teaching poetry as well as teaching about an important Mexican holiday. Highly recommended!" —Reforma Newsletter

"The Festival of Bones is at once lively and funny and offers a playfully imaginative treatment of the Day of the Dead." —Latinola.com
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 2
  • Lexile Measure: AD900L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press; Bilingual edition (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • ISBN-10: 0938317679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0938317678
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.3 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #983,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Zanne Marie Gray on October 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Having been born and raised in the Midwest, I've always had a fascination with Mexico's Day of the Dead. The idea that you could joyously celebrate the lives of family and friends who have passed on struck me as being unique and beautiful.
The Little-Bitty Book for the Day of the Dead starts with an imaginative and whimsical poem, in both English and Spanish, illustrated with the most charming group of skeletons that you are likely to encounter in a children's book.
Rounding out the book is information about The Day of the Dead, including suggestions on how to celebrate this popular Mexican holiday, with recipes for Pan de Meurto and sugar skulls.
This book is a must have for any multi-cultural children's library.
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Format: Hardcover
This "little-bitty" book is small in size but definitely not small in information. This book was packed full of all kinds of facts and ideas for Día de los Muertos. The book begins with a little story that is brilliantly illustrated in pen-and-ink with spot color. The illustrations are skeletons wearing clothes in the style of Juan Guadalupe Posada, the "patron saint" of Día de los Muertos illustrations. This story is a rhyming tale of the skeletons during the fiesta told in both English and Spanish. This is great because it can be read by patrons that read either language, and can improve bilingualism in those that are learning English or Spanish. These illustrations are more in the style of the holiday than any other print source I could find. After the story, the book becomes very informative. It gives the history of the holiday, and gives ideas to children on how to celebrate at the cemetery. It lists many ideas for making an ofrenda (altar and its offerings) for a departed loved one, and then gives recipes for making Pan de Muerto and a Sugar Skull.
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Format: Paperback
The Festival of Bones
Luis San Vicente
Cinco Puntos Press
978-1-941026-03-8
$7.95, 32 pgs

The Festival of Bones, written and illustrated by Luis San Vicente, is The Little-Bitty Book for the Day of the Dead, a bilingual early reader, translated from the Spanish by John William Byrd and Bobby Byrd of Cinco Puntos Press. Luis San Vicente is a Mexico City artist whose work has been exhibited in Mexico, Venezuela, Europe and the United States. He is a winner of UNESCO's NOMA Encouragement Concours Prize for Illustration.

Originally published in Mexico in 1999, Festival is a poem, song, cookbook, history and craft how-to all rolled into one enchanting package. An ancient Aztec tradition that has been incorporated over hundreds of years into the Catholic tradition, El Día de los Muertos is a holiday celebrated in Mexico from October 31st through November 2nd. It is a joyful time when family and friends gather together to remember the dead.

They're coming and they're going
And you see them passing by.
They're dancing over here,
They're chatting over there...
It's their day
And they're going to have a good time.

The illustrations in Festival, in Mexican folk-art style, depict a happy celebration of the lives of the dead as they make their way to the graveyard, singing and dancing, rollerskating and riding bicycles.

Included in the text is a simple history of the holiday and ideas for your own celebration, including suggestions for building an altar and recipes for pan de muerto (a sweet bread) and sugar skull candies. Festival is a charming book that would be a great addition to every little Texan's library.
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Format: Hardcover
Mexico's Day of the Dead is a three day celebration where one's deceased loved ones are remembered and celebrated. At the end of the book there are suggestions for celebrating the Day of the Dead along with several recipes. Although I enjoyed the book and the illustrations, I think the skeletons may be frightening or scary for young children. Particularly, "the baby skeleton, with her scary mask and her box with the little candle."
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Format: Paperback
The illustrations are fabulous, and the reading rhythm and flow of the English portion of the book is fawless. At the end of the story the author explains the traditions of The Day of the Dead, and there are activities and recipes included, for having your own celebration. I cannot champion this book enough! I was given access to this book via Edelweiss in return for an honest review. I will definitely be featuring this book on my Children's blog today. I am only sorry that it is not available as an ebook so parents could purchase it instantly, in time to have the book for the Day of the Dead celebrations this weekend.
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Format: Hardcover
The first half is a poetic picture book with stunning illustrations and words in both English and Spanish while the second half is filled with information about the Day of the Dead, traditions, how to build an altar, poems and recipes. This is a great book for exploring other cultures and holidays with children and good to have if looking for another way to celebrate the beginning of fall.
I found it helpful in helping my children to remember relatives who have passed and to help take some of the fear out of death.
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Format: Hardcover
The Festival of Bones is a great way to introduce children to Dia De Los Muertos. The artwork is fantastic. We have three other Day of the Dead children's books, but this one is my favorite. I love that it is bi-lingual and the illustrations are incredible. In the back of the book are some fun facts about the holiday, and recipes for Sugar Skulls and Bread of the Dead. I highly recommend this book.
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