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September Favorite: Funny Bones September 30, 2015

Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
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bonesBy rights, this should probably be my October pick, but I read it in September, so here it is a month early! I love all of Duncan Tonatiuh’s work and I was lucky enough to meet him at a picture book panel a year and a half ago. His new book Funny Bones: Posada and his Day of the Dead Calaveras hits all of my sweet spots–picture book, art, Mexican history–just like his biography of Diego Rivera did, only this time his subject is an almost complete unknown.

Few people in the United States could probably name Jose Guadelupe Posada as the artist of the iconic Day of the Dead calaveras, even if they have t-shirts and handbags and wall art with the colorful drawings. I know I certainly couldn’t, until reading this fantastic book. Tonatiuh tells Posada’s life story simply, while still giving background information on events such as the Mexican Revolution for context. The pages with a breakdown of the three distinct artistic processes that Posada used (lithography, engraving and etching) are especially helpful in visualizing exactly what the artist needed to do in order to complete the work.

Tonatiuh’s signature profile figures, inspired by Mexican codex imagery fit nicely alongside Posada’s black and white skeletons. The full page reproductions of famous skeleton art alongside a question about what message Posada was communicating with his art push readers to consider the goals of the artist. A detailed author’s note, glossary and bibliography are essential for those looking for further information. For readers interested in art, history, and Latino culture, don’t miss this book!