Author: Jeanette Winter
Last updated Thursday, September 22, 2005
Date of Publication: 2004
Grade Level: Kindergarten (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Oct. 2005
A title that features jaunty illustrations inspired by Mexican folk art and a short story about preparations for the Day of the Dead that includes within it an alphabet book based on the Spanish alphabet. The heart of the book is the artwork: vivid pastel clothing and scenery set against shiny black backgrounds and complemented by the bright white of the skeletons that form an integral part of the Mexican and Mexican-American celebrations. Skeletal characters in the alphabet portion of the book include ?ngel (angel) and bruja (witch), Kahlo (as in Frida, about whom Winter has written), and zapatero (shoemaker). While the glossary is helpful, the illustrations offer plenty of clues as to what each word means. The story that surrounds the alphabet concerns the family of Don Pedro, three generations of which join in the yearlong making of the papier-m?ch? skeletons for the fiestas in early November. An author's note includes information about the real Don Pedro, whose life inspired her book. This is a lovely book that approaches the Day of the Dead from an unusual angle, reflecting not only the close family ties common to Mexican life but also the non-"devilish" nature of the celebrations.
|Note to readers: |
Note the glossary at the end of the book
with the translations of the words--practice
|Discussion topics for before reading: |
Do you know what the Dia de los Muertos/ the Day of
the Dead is? How is it celebrated? (Volunteers who
are more familiar with this celebration are invited to
share what they know with others who are less familiar
before the reading clubs)
What is a Calavera? Have you ever made one?
Do you get dressed up for Halloween? What will you
be this year?
|Discussion topics for during/after reading: |
Do you think it would be fun to help make a
Based on the pictures, what do you think the letter
stands for? What are the calevaras doing?
What?s another ?[letter of the alphabet]? word?
What job do you want to have when you grow up? What
letter does that start with? What are other jobs?
|Craft ideas: |
Take the first letter of your first name and draw a
calavera doing something relating to a word that
begins with that letter.
Color a piece of paper with many different colors,
filing in all spaces. Then, color over that layer
with a layer of just black crayon. When you scratch
the black layer, the different colors underneath are
revealed. Scratch a drawing of Halloween or the Day
of the Dead.
Bring ahead option: bring in cut-outs of skeleton
parts (make copies of pictures on the internet?), and have
the children glue the parts to a piece of paper.
|Special activities: |
Divide the class into two teams. Show one team a
picture of a letter page, tell them the letter, and
see if they can guess based on the picture what the
word is. Then do the same with the other team.
*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions.
You can use them, but you dont have to use them.
You can expand upon them, or add your own twist.
Remember, though, that the focus of your time should
not be on the development and execution of a craft;
the focus should be on the read-aloud and the
enjoyment of the book!