Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras (2015) by Duncan Tonatiuh won the Sibert Award in 2016. The award is given to authors who have “the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year” (http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/sibertmedal). Duncan Tonatiuh’s book tells the life story of Posada and also teaches the reader how to make the same kinds of art he did, like lithography and engraving (p. 6-7, 2015). It teaches children about the artist, Spanish words for non-Spanish speakers, and asks readers to muse over the meaning behind Posada’s calaveras, Skeletons.
Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (2015) by Don Tate won the NCSS’s Carter G. Woodson Book Award in 2016. The award is given for books that help “encourage the writing, publishing, and dissemination of outstanding social studies books for young readers that treat topics related to ethnic minorities and race relations sensitively and accurately” (http://www.socialstudies.org/awards/woodson/winners). This story tells a child-friendly interpretation of George Moses Horton and the years he spent as a slave while learning to read and write.
Of the two books, I feel that Tonatiuh’s portrayal of Posada’s life is far more information-driven than Tate’s story about Horton. This is due to the fact that Posada’s life story, and the grim messages he expressed through calaveras was not sugar-coated to undermine the greater purpose of the images (Tonatiuh, 2015). Posada’s story is not dumbed down to hard the dark truth history tells of the violent of the Mexican Revolution. Horton’s time as a slave is written in a carefully worded way that erases the inhuman turmoil slaves were subjected to, painting the master’s hold on Horton as stubborn pride rather than the possible grim reality that Horton was seen more as property than servant (Tate, 2015). While both books discuss men who endured hardship to achieve artistic success in their own right, Posadas’ story also teaches the reader/listener how to become an artist like Posada, making it a more efficient teaching tool.
Tate, Don. Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton. Peachtree Publishers, 2015. 36 Pages. Tr. $14.83. 978-1561458257.
Preferred Reading Age: 7-10 years and up.
Tonatiuh, Duncan. Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras. Harry N. Abrams, 2015. 40 Pages. Tr. $11.55. 978-1419716478.
Preferred Reading Age: 6 to 10 years and up.