for Funny Bones
by Duncan Tonatiuh
José Guadalupe Posada’s etchings of calaveras (skeletons) are a cultural treasure in Mexico. Posada, who was known as Don Lupe, began creating them to illustrate short, funny poems called literary calaveras in the late 19th century. Duncan Tonatiuh combines biographical elements about Posada with a history of the calaveras he created, including his artistic mentors and the printing process he used. Tonatiuh discusses the cultural importance of Don Lupe’s calaveras and their connection to El Día de los Muertos. He moves seamlessly through these elements in the narrative while going back and forth visually between his own distinctive art style and reproductions of a number of calaveras created by Don Lupe and an earlier artist named Manuel Manila. Don Lupe’s calavera images included social and political figures, and Tonatiuh ponders their meaning, and also imagines what subjects Don Lupe might choose if he were alive today. A volume that is playful, admiring, and informative is also visually arresting across the two styles of art. A substantial author’s note provides more information on the Day of the Dead, Posada, and calaveras. (Ages 8–12)
CCBC Choices 2016. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2016. Used with permission.