Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras | SLJ DVD Review

redstarFunny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras. 24 min. Dist. by Dreamscape. 2016. $38.99. ISBN 9781520011424. TOP10_Latino_FunnyBonesCover

Gr 1-6 –Based on Duncan Tonatiuh’s award-winning picture book, this is the history of what is known about artist and political commentator José Guadalupe Posada, also known as Don Lupe or simply as Posada. Born in the mid-1800s, Posada is best known for his humorous and often politically pointed drawings of calaveras—representations of skeletons shown doing the ordinary tasks of the living. While he was not the first to draw these figures, his work became increasingly popular and closely associated with Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations. This biography teaches young viewers a little about etching, lithography, and engraving, as well as elements of Mexico’s history. The author examines possible messages the artist was trying to convey. Tonatiuh’s illustrations are deliberately flat, echoing ancient artwork of the region, and the presentation uses the art to create two-dimensional animation. Plenty of Posada’s artwork is included as well. Viewers can watch the program with or without a read-along option as Armando Duran smoothly narrates the Spanish-studded text, with appropriate background music. A bonus features includes an extensive author’s note on the holiday, its history and celebration, and the continuing influence of Posada on artists today. VERDICT This is an extraordinary production that has multiple potential uses in art classrooms and for multicultural education. It merits a place in any library serving children.–Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary, Federal Way, WA

This review was published in the School Library Journal June 2016 issue.

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