Review of Funny Bones

tonatiuh_funny bonesstar2 Funny Bones: Posada and His Day 
of the Dead Calaveras
by Duncan Tonatiuh; 
illus. by the author
Primary, Intermediate   Abrams   40 pp.
8/15   978-1-4197-1647-8   $18.95

Artist José Guadalupe Posada (1852–1915) didn’t invent calaveras, the iconic skeletons associated with Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration, but they attained their greatest popularity during the twenty-four years that he drew them. Posada died poor and relatively unknown, but interest in his work grew steadily after his death, and now Tonatiuh brings his story to a child audience. In his signature flat illustrative style reminiscent of the Mixtec (an indigenous Mesoamerican people) codex, Tonatiuh digitally layers various colors and textures onto simple, black-outlined line drawings. Appropriately, Posada’s own artwork also plays a prominent role in the book and provides a nice complement to Tonatiuh’s illustrations, especially in a series of broadsides that ask the reader to consider the relationship between art and politics in Mexican culture. The straightforward narrative incorporates biographical highlights and personal anecdotes, while extended sidebars illustrate the different processes of lithography, engraving, and etching (one of which contains a small error). An author’s note, glossary, bibliography, and index round out the full assort-ment of nonfiction features, making 
this book a worthy successor to Tonatiuh’s 2015 Belpré– and Sibert honor–winning Separate Is Never Equal (rev. 7/14).

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the coordinator of library media services at the San Diego County Office of Education.

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