We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2016 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.
I have read a lot of good reviews about Duncan Tonatiuh’s books – and I am glad I found this award-winning title in our library bookshelves. This book was also nominated for CYBILS 2015 – our current reading theme until end of February.
Funny Bones: Posada And His Day of the Dead Calaveras
Written and Illustrated by: Duncan Tonatiuh
Published by: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2015; Sibert Medal (2016), Kirkus Prize Nominee for Young Readers’ Literature (Finalist) (2015)
Book borrowed from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
In this PBB, the reader gets introduced to a little-known-artist named José Guadalupe Posada who popularized the “festive bony figures calaveras,” often seen during the Day of the Dead. The book traces Posada’s history as far back as 1852, the year he was born, along with a description of his huge family – with eight children in all. It appears that Posada’s talent manifested itself even when he was young. He was fortunate to have an older brother named Cirilo, a school teacher, who recognized his talent and paved the way for his enrolling in a local art academy. What particularly worked for me is the gradual build up of the story along with specific details on how Posada mastered his craft – see below for the very detailed steps in engraving that he learned in his first job:
It appeared that Posada also used his art for social justice, with his caricatures serving as forms of social commentaries that indicated his approval or displeasure with social events or politicians. And it was quite ingenious how Tonatiuh juxtaposed his own distinctive artistic rendering of Posada’s life story alongside Posada’s actual cartoons and drawings:
I especially enjoyed how Tonatiuh made use of some of Posada’s posters – and wrote his own musings about what Don Lupe or Posada might have meant as he created those drawings (see below)
This book also resonated with me a great deal as I have always perceived very strong parallels between the Filipino and Mexican culture. While Mexicans celebrate El Dia De Muertos, Filipinos refer to these two dates in November as Todos Los Santos or All Saints Day – often inextricably linked with All Souls Day. And the celebration, of course, comes with its own rituals, not dissimilar to what Tonatiuh shared here.
Teachers would also be very happy to note that there is an extensive Author’s Note found at the end of the book, along with a detailed Glossary, Bibliography and further reference materials. Needless to say, I became even more intrigued by Posadas and was glad to have found this video collage of some of his works on Youtube. Enjoy!