Mora worries that the Mexican tradition of honoring their dead on the Día de los Muertos may be misunderstood and become commercialized, so, the author offers this imagined story of how a “remembering day” to honor loved ones now dead might have started in the distant past.
Long, long ago, in a time before Spanish was spoken in Mexico, Bella and her family live in a small village in a home made of clay and reeds. Bella and her grandmother Mamá Alma are very close. They work in the garden growing flowers and vegetables, and they play and cook together. Mamá Alma has also taught Bella to weave on the loom, cure a sick bird, and recognize different medicinal herbs. Now, as Mamá Alma ages, she wants Bella to know that though human bodies do not live forever, if Bella plans a day when family and friends come together to remember the people they loved, the dead will remain alive in their memories. The realistic style and warm colors of the illustrations bring to life the loving relationship between Bella and her grandmother. Unfortunately, though it has been gracefully translated into Spanish by Baeza Ventura, the bilingual format makes for very text-heavy pages.
Readers might choose this book thinking they will find out more about this well-known Mexican tradition; instead, they will find a warm family story. (author’s note) (Bilingual picture book. 5-8)