Joaquín and his mother are about to eat some freshly baked pan de muerto when a knock on the door interrupts them. A hungry-looking skeleton in a mariachi outfit is willing to exchange a song for a bite of their Day of the Dead bread.
After some misgivings, the boy and his mother sit back to enjoy the song—but they’ve forgotten the gaping door. Two more skeletons with accordions stroll in, then three guitarists, and soon the tabletop is covered with 15 performing skeletons eager for a taste of the special treat. When the satisfied skeletal guests wave goodbye, not a single crumb is left. Undaunted, Mom removes two more loaves from the oven and Joaquín quickly shuts the door. Garza’s Day of the Dead celebration needlessly bogs down once the quickly multiplying skeletons start appearing. The refrain, “just one itsy bitsy little bite,” is repeated three times (with slight variation) on each page and always is followed by Mom’s halfhearted rejoinder, “That sounds fair.” An additional distraction is the culturally incongruous substitution of Spanish flamenco dancers for Mexican folklórico dancers among the bony party crashers. De Vita’s stiff watercolor scenes are framed by colorful borders, and the English and Spanish texts are separated by a line of whimsical images. The effectiveness of this bilingual counting book is further marred by its failure to highlight numbers within the text and the absence of any corresponding numerals.
Give this one a miss. (Picture book. 4-7)