Starting on October 31st and extending
for three days, the festival of Dia de Los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is celebrated in Mexico. This beautifully photographed, 42 page book, follows
Pablo Montano Ruiz and his family as they prepare for and celebrate this holiday.
On October 31st, All Hallows Eve, the family shops in the big city market of Oaxaca and begins preparations for the
festival. Bakers bake pan de muertos (bread of the dead), calaveras de dulce
(candy skulls) are made, and decorations and flowers begin to be displayed. Photos
of the open air market and the wonderful foods and products are depicted along with the Spanish/English terminology.
All Saints Day follows on November 1st. To honor all relatives
who have died, an alter is prepared. Candles, food, and photographs are displayed. Finally, fireworks fill the air signaling that the spirits of the dead are leaving
and it is time to feast! It is a day for visiting, playing and celebration.
November 2nd, All Souls Day, is a time for church and reflection.
Families visit and decorate tombs of their deceased loved ones.
The author's notes, at the end of the story, explain
the traditions and history of this holiday beginning with Aztec beliefs about death and the Spanish Catholic traditions brought
to the people of Mexico by the Conquistadors. A glossary of Spanish words at
the end adds another note of authenticity to this informative book.
Mr. Ancona has composed his photographs in such
a way that they enhance the text and inform and educate the reader about the foods, customs, and traditions surrounding
this Mexican holiday. There is a lot of white space on the bordered page so the
text stands out and is easily read without being overpowering on the page.
Actual photographs of a real Mexican family while
they prepare and celebrate this holiday adds meaning and authenticity to this intriguing book.
The reader can note some of the similarities between this holiday and the American Halloween traditions. The third person narration, with the focus on Pablo, adds to the realistic setting and allows the reader
to step right in to this families' home. This book is a wonderful introduction
for anyone unfamiliar with this holiday and its traditions.