Friday, November 1, 2013

Celebrating Day of the Dead

Today is the celebration of Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead. This celebration, dating back 3,000 years ago, is a time for gathering to remember family and friends who have died. Some families build altars, while others take picnics to the graveyards. However they observe the day, people bring favorite foods, treasured possessions, small gifts, and marigolds to lay on the altar or grave.

Clatter Bash! by Richard Keep. Peachtree, 2004
While El Dia de Los Muertos is a day of quiet respect, it is also a day of noisy celebration. There are picnics, parades, and fireworks. The markets are full of flowers (marigolds) and fresh fruits and vegetables for all the cooking that will be done. There are masks and toys and chocolate skulls.

What I like about this book: I like the way Richard Keep combines his cut-paper art with sounds of the day, turning it into a story that spans a single night. At dusk, a Mexican family has left fiesta offerings in the graveyard. As night falls, playful skeletons rise from their graves. They sing, dance, eat the yummy food, tell stories, and play games. And Keep captures it in sounds:knock-knock, Yak-yak, Chitter-chat... 

In one spread the skeletons sit in a group. Keep's text: "Buenas noches! Storytime! Shiver-jitter, gee!" When they sit down to eat, it's "sip-gulp, chomp-crunch, slurp-burp". As daylight approaches, the skeletons clean up their mess and leave no trace of their "clatter bash" behind as they return to their coffins - until next year.

Beyond the book: So many ways to have fun with skeletons. I've posted ideas for art, food and games over to Archimedes Notebook. And tonight, as you turn off the lights and slip into pj's and bunny slippers, take a listen outside. What do you hear?  

Today's review is part of PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copy provided by publisher.


  1. This looks like a fun one to me! A good read aloud. The Day of the Dead is a fascinating holiday to me. I like bones. I revere bones. I celebrate bones. And dead things. The Mom Person says I don't have quite the right attitude for the true meaning of the Day. But it sounds like a good Day anyway. Thanks for the book review!

  2. I wasn't familiar with this celebration -- but think it's a wonderful day to celebrate loved ones not with us. It's great there is a book about the day for kids. This is a really great choice!

  3. Great choice, Sue! And wonderful review and resource list...not the usual story I would pick up to read to kids...but that is what is so fantastic about opens my eyes to new adventures in reading.:)

  4. Love, love, LOVE the art! Thanks for the recommendation.

  5. I had heard of this holiday at a local Mexican culture museum. Although I don't like to focus on death, it's always good to remember loved ones who have gone before!