Though they are skeletons, this family couldn’t be friendlier.
Canseco Zárate’s papier-mâché sculptures grin out at readers broadly, as only skeletons can. Weill’s bilingual text gives them voice in both English and Spanish. Big sister Anita, wearing a yellow dress with red flowers and patent-leather Mary Janes, introduces first herself and then her family. Her brother Miguel, she confides, is “a brat” (“Él es muy travieso”); his bony knees stick out under his blue shorts. Juanito, the baby, on the other hand, is “so cute!” (“¡Él es tan lindo!”)—and, indeed he is, with a little kewpie-doll topknot atop his bare skull. There’s her “hermosa mamá”; her “guapo papá”; her grandmother, who “gives…good advice”; her “sweet” grandfather; her “bisabuela,” who “tells wonderful stories”; and her pets: “¡Son mis mejores amigos!” The figures are posed alone or in groupings against varying pastel-colored backgrounds. The details traditional Oaxacan artist Canseco Zárate includes charm as fully as Weill’s crunchy vocabulary. Abuelita sports blue-rimmed cat’s-eye glasses; Anita’s great-grandmother uses a walker; the skeletal cat wears a pink belled collar. When posed in groups, they hold hands, wave and put arms round one another’s shoulders—they may be dead, but their affection is palpable.
Just right for the Day of the Dead or for a fresh take on family structures—tan lindo! (Picture book. 4-8)