The Dead Family Diaz

Overview

A fresh, funny take on the Day of the Dead that's packed with kid appeal

Every skeleton in the Land of the Dead is excited to celebrate el Día de los Muertos with the Living. But not Angelito. His big sister has told him all about their horrifying bulgy eyes and squishy skin. So when Angelito is separated from his family in the Land of the Living, he's petrified—until he makes a new friend who is just as terrified of THEM as Angelito is. Then his new buddy turns out to be ...

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Overview

A fresh, funny take on the Day of the Dead that's packed with kid appeal

Every skeleton in the Land of the Dead is excited to celebrate el Día de los Muertos with the Living. But not Angelito. His big sister has told him all about their horrifying bulgy eyes and squishy skin. So when Angelito is separated from his family in the Land of the Living, he's petrified—until he makes a new friend who is just as terrified of THEM as Angelito is. Then his new buddy turns out to be (gulp!) a living boy! Angelito runs as fast as his bony feet can carry him. Fortunately the traditions of the Day of the Dead reunite the two boys, just in time for some holiday fun.

Full of wild Tim Burton-esque art, this clever tale is sure to become un libro favorito for the Day of the Dead, Halloween season, and beyond.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bernatene (The Princess and the Pig) revels in the bright colors and general hullabaloo of the Mexican Day of the Dead festival, while Bracegirdle (the Joy of Spooking trilogy) doesn't focus on the festival so much as use it as a setting for a humorous moral tale about differences. Angelito travels with his skeleton family up to the Land of the Living on the day of the festival (they take an elevator), and he's nervous about meeting actual members of the Living. "Did I tell you how the Living have big red tongues and bulging eyes?" his sister teases. He meets Pablo, a boy whose skeleton mask fools Angelito into thinking that he's one of the Dead. The two boys have fun until, in a double-take, they realize the truth: "Hey, you're as cold as a Popsicle!" Pablo says. "And you've got bulging eyes!" Angelito cries. Then he bolts, to reconcile with Pablo later, of course. The lesson about acceptance is a bit flat-footed; it's Bernatene's eerie artwork that really probes the nature of strangeness. Ages 5–8. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. (Aug.)
BCCB
"Sheer fun...It's nice to see a Day of the Dead book that finally gives Halloween a run for the spooky entertainment money."—BCCB
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
This unusual story of the traditional Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead is told from the point of view of Angelito, a young boy in the Land of the Dead, from which the inhabitants return on that day to walk among the Living. His sister Estrellita is making him afraid of going there by describing how strange the Living look. After a packed elevator lifts them up, Angelito loses his family in the crowds, but joins another lad named Pablo. He has the same skull-like face, and is also afraid of "them." Together the boys plan to attack "them" when they arrive, pelting them with fruits and vegetables. As a parade marches by, Pablo reveals a living face under a skull mask to Angelito, and then realizes that Angelito is not living. Both boys scream in fear; Angelito runs off. He meets up with his family, but then realizes that Pablo can be his friend. The skeleton characters, particularly the skulls, are potentially scary to those unfamiliar with the holiday, despite the festive clothing they all wear. Most startling is the double page of the boys facing each other in horror, with open mouths and pointing fingers. Later, Angelito laughs as Pablo intentionally frightens the teasing Estrellita. Bright colors and evening firelight enhance the festive atmosphere along with the digitally produced, cartoon-y characters and the settings that demonstrate the traditions of the celebration. A note adds additional information. Compare the front and back end pages. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1–2—As in the household of the Addams family, the Dead Familia Diaz consider themselves average. It is the Living that are feared, especially by little Angelito, who must walk among them to celebrate their closeness on The Day of the Dead. Drawing a contrast between the holiday and Halloween, Angelito's father discounts his son's fears as the family prepares to join others in celebration. It doesn't take long before the boy's fears return when he becomes separated in the crowd and unknowingly befriends one of Them-a live boy! The subsequent graveyard celebration brings families together and reunites the two, while Angelito discovers he doesn't "need guts to be brave." As an introduction to El Dia de los Muertos, this title presents the happiness of the gathering with fond remembrances of friends and family who have passed on. Graphic cartoon art in bright jewel tones, the colors of the holiday, and contrasts of light and dark set the mood for an unusual juxtaposition of living and dead families. The cartooning of the Dead is fairly tame, but parents of the very young should be aware of the eerie deep-set eyes and grinning skulls. The author makes the most of plays on words as a "bone-tired" Angelito heads to bed. As a companion or contrast to Halloween books, this title is recommended as a general purchase for all libraries with demand for holiday titles with a Mexican flair.—Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano ISD, TX
Kirkus Reviews
Angelito is not looking forward to the Day of the Dead. Even though he will be with his family when they arrive at the Land of the Living, his anxieties mount as the elevator door opens onto the raucous party atmosphere of El Día de los Muertos. Bracegirdle crafts a colorful story about facing fears and accepting differences while seamlessly integrating Spanish words and phrases and information about the holiday's traditions. Angelito's older sister, Estrellita, teases him about how frightening and strange the Living are. While everyone in his family is excited about the upcoming festivities, Angelito is afraid of what he will encounter. When he gets separated from his family in the Land of the Living, he finds a friend in Pablo--wearing a skeleton mask--who Angelito believes is just like himself. They have fun together, but at one point both boys realize exactly what the other is. Here Bernatene departs from his lush and vibrantly hued full-bleed spreads to reveal a double-page close-up of both boys, set against ample white space, facing each other with shocked surprise. After running away, Angelito experiences a range of emotions conveyed through spot illustrations. Conveniently, the boys meet up to not only forgive each other, but to also play a trick on Estrellita. Although a bit pat, the ending satisfies, and the story as a whole addresses many issues pertinent to primary-grade children. (note) (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803733268
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 8/2/2012
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 433,238
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.98 (w) x 10.77 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

P. J. Bracegirdle lives in Montreal, Canada.

Poly Bernatene lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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