Monday, October 30, 2006


LOS GATOS BLACK ON HALLOWEEN by Marisa Montes, illustrated by Yuyi Morales (Holt)

The Halloween hour is nigh...las calabazas glow, las brujas glide on broomsticks, los esqueletos rattle their bones, los muertos rise "And in a slow and strange parade, /The creatures of the night invade/A haunted casa long asleep--/The mansion's secrets buried deep." But who is that rapping at the door? It is the one creature that can scare these spirits back into submission: los ninos! Seasonal Spanish vocabulary is seamlessly interwoven into the spooky verse, and matching illustrations, full of shadow and shiver. This book is no-holds-barred and will offer those transitional older picture book readers the prickly back and pause at bedtime that they have been begging for in time for the holiday, so make sure you share with a group who is really in the spirit of things! Gotta love those unseen fingers playing the piano, and the eerily lovely graveyard, complete with zombies coming on up to party on down. The finale in which children are still in the driver's seats gives this story just the right touch to settle any fretful young hearts. Install Ms. Morales and Ms. Montes as this year's Queens of Halloween...bilingual, no less. Glossary included. (7 and up)

Also of interest:
Halloween season is also the season of Dia de Los Muertos, also a blast to celebrate (and with a fabulous color scheme). This holiday also offers up a chance to read another book by Yuyi Morales, which happens to be my folkloric favorite that she has written: JUST A MINUTE: A TRICKSTER TALE AND COUNTING BOOK (Chronicle). In this clever story, it takes more than a pretty please to separate a grandma from her grandchildren, as this clever abuela proves in a trickster tale in which party preparations take up a little too much time for Senor Calavera, a skeleton patiently waiting to take this busy woman to the other side. When he sees that she is indeed the hostess with the mostess, he rescinds his own creepy invitation…after all, he wants to come to next year's party, doesn't he? Bold Mexican motifs make this a sensible pick for Day of the Dead, but don't be silly like Senor Calavera and wait, use the book right away to help children learn to count from one to ten in Spanish, and to celebrate the special loving ties of a family that can cordially show trouble the door. This not-too-scary book ends with a reassuring wink, and is smiles all through, thanks to writing that belies Morales' storytelling background and an absolutely gorgeous palette that seems inspired by the streamers of a pinata. (7 and up)

Other excellent "Dia de los Muertos" literature (for November 1st):
THE SPIRIT OF TIO FERNANDO: A DAY OF THE DEAD STORY by Janice Levy, illustrated by Morella Fuenmayor (Whitman)(6 and up)
CLATTER BASH! A DAY OF THE DEAD CELEBRATION by Richard Keep (Peachtree)(4 and up)
CALAVERA ABCEDARIO: A DAY OF THE DEAD ALPHABET BOOK by Jeanette Winter (Harcourt) (5 and up)
FELIPA AND THE DAY OF THE DEAD by Birte Muller (North-South Books) (6 and up)
THE FESTIVAL OF BONES/EL FESTIVAL DE LAS CALAVERAS by Luis San Vicente (Cinco Puntos) (7 and up)
DAY OF THE DEAD by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Jeanette Winter (Voyager) (5 and up)
PABLO REMEMBERS by Tony Johnston, illustrated by George Ancona (HarperCollins) (5 and up)

Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.

1 comment:

Susan said...

Hi, Esme. I believe that George Ancona wrote and photographed "Pablo Remembers." Great book!


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