Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Day of the Dead, Count Me In!

Day of the Dead
Tony Johnston
Jeanette Winter

This beautiful little book contains so much. One of the most noticeable things about the book is that it is so small - it is nowhere near the size of a regular picture book. The title is in large letters and the illustrations remind me of papel picado - cut paper that is traditionally used as decoration. I have looked over several Day of the Dead books recently and what I love most about this one is the detail it goes into regarding the traditions of the holiday. The food gathered for the occasion includes: empanadas, fruits, sweet bread, pan de muertos, tamales, sugar skulls, and mole. The family gathers the traditional marigolds and they take all these treasures to the cemetery with them. I love how the houses look built from adobe or dry clay, and the tias and mama are shown cooking with tools such as a molcajete. The book shows as much of the tradition as it tells. Small details, such as the angel bringing out the stars and taking them back up when the sun is about to rise, are really lovely to find. And finally, I love how the family visits their grandparents and brings these colorful treasures to share with them. A very brief but concise book about the Day of the Dead.

Count Me In!
A Parade of Mexican Folk Art Numbers in English and Spanish
Cynthia Weill
Ceramics by the Aguilar Sisters: Guillermina, Josefina, Irene and Concepción

This bright book focuses on a festival called the Guelaguetza (Zapotec, “to share”), a festival that takes place in July in Oaxaca, Mexico. The illustrations are photographs of ceramic people dressed for the parade and in traditional Oaxacan clothing. Each page has a number that corresponds with the ceramic figures in the photograph. The people are introduced (the balloon holder, the gigantes, the observers) through the photographs and text that tell the story of the festival. The reader can learn about this tradition, what it means, the participants, and numbers all at the same time. I love that the text is translated into Spanish, so you can learn the numbers from one to ten in both languages. And finally, I really love that the book includes information about the Aguilar Sisters, who create very detailed ceramics focusing on the people of Oaxaca. From the first end paper to the last, the book includes new information about Oaxaca, ceramics, the Aguilar Sisters, counting, and more.

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