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A family honors their living and dead relatives as they celebrate this holiday with shared food and stories.
The Day of the Dead is a happy day when Mar’s family gathers together. There are favorite dishes to enjoy, games to be played, and most importantly, stories to tell. No one in the family is forgotten because this is the day of the year when the dead come to visit the living—and for this holiday it is almost as if they’re alive again, as the family takes great joy in celebrating the things that made them special. Mar realizes she is just like her Grandpa Ramón, who kept a journal. And her sister, Paz, plays accordian, just like their great-grandfather. There are so many things that connect them all—and at dinner, Abuelita spins even more stories that make them feel close to the ones they will love forever. Ana Aranda’s tender text and vibrant art make the joy felt on this sweet day totally palpable.
About the Author
Ana Aranda (anaranda.com) also illustrated Moth & Butterfly: Ta-da! (by Dev Petty) and The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra (by Marc Tyler Nobleman). She was born and raised in Mexico City, and completed her undergraduate studies in illustration in France. In San Francisco, she painted murals in the Mission District, for the Consulate General of Mexico, and for the prestigious de Young Museum. Her biggest inspirations are her childhood memories, the vibrant colors of Mexico, and music. She currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
"In her authorial debut, Aranda, illustrator of The Chupacabra Ate the Candelabra, delivers a charming ode to the Latinx Day of the Dead holiday. A little girl narrates this sweet tale that takes readers through her family’s preparations for the event that occurs every November 1st through 2nd, in which families honor those who came before with altars, poems, marigolds, and sugar skeletons. . . . The importance of family, storytelling, and tradition shines through the text and joyous textured illustrations. . . . Warm and vibrant hues, such as the orange of the marigolds and the bright colors of the papel picado, add to the lively, celebratory mood. . . . Calaveras, or skulls, and living people mingle throughout, but the joy-filled celebration is especially evident during the fiesta scenes. The matter-of-fact text contains not a hint of fear or mourning, which might be just the right tone for some children with a recent death in the family, making this a perennial title and not one to relegate to Day of the Dead shelves or displays. . . . Great fun; a strong choice for picture book collections." --School Library Journal
“Mar, Paz, and their parents have much to do to get ready to welcome family for the big celebration: getting marigolds and sugar skulls at the market, making almond cookies, and writing poems. There are special revelations about ways in which the children are like their grandfather and great-grandmother as well as singing and dancing. At the heart of it all, Abuelita is greeted joyfully and shares family stories. The illustrations are appropriately brightly colored and show off many of the elements of the Day of the Dead. The special marigolds, skulls, and symbolic monarch butterflies thread across pages, tying the celebration and the living and the dead together. Aranda explains why the holiday matters as well as the importance of learning about and preserving ancestral memories. Her text contains just enough information to be beneficial to young readers without overwhelming them. The nuances of the connections between ancestors and current generations, and between lost loved ones and living ones, are expertly captured. Above all, the story centers on the joys of family and tradition. Shines a triumphant spotlight on Day of the Dead festivities.” —Kirkus Reviews
"Aranda offers a joyful, accessible introduction to a beloved holiday via one family’s preparations. Watercolor, ink, and gouache art, redolent with festive magenta, turquoise, and violet hues, first follows pigtailed siblings Mar and Paz into town to buy marigolds and sugar skulls. Back at home, decorating and cooking give way to arrivals of living relations, portrayed with varying brown skin tones, and of departed relatives. The latter—represented with smiling painted skulls and surrounded by embellishments that reference their passions—hover approvingly alongside the family, rendering the line between past and present a happy blur. The party moves into high gear when Abuelita, who 'knows all the family stories,' arrives in a swirling cloud of monarch butterflies. 'We feel close to everyone,' says Mar, amid the singing, dancing, and reminiscing, 'the living and the dead.'”—Publishers Weekly
“Aranda shares a story inspired by her own family. . . . Aranda’s warm artwork incorporates bright and cheerful visual metaphors, such as swirling monarch butterflies, which represent the distance guests travel to return home for the party. The family tree in the opening pages and emphasis on family stories underscores the connection to ancestry the holiday celebrates, and the upbeat and happy tone reminds readers that remembering loved ones, even those we miss terribly, can be a source of joy.” —Booklist