Funny Bones

Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras

Duncan Tonatiuh

Duncan Tonatiuh (toh-nah-tyou) is an award winning author and illustrator. Duncan was born in Mexico City and grew up in San Miguel de Allende. He graduated from Parsons The New School for Design and from Eugene Lang College in New York City in 2008. His work is inspired by Ancient Mexican art, particularly that of the Mixtec codex. His aim is to create images that honor the past, but that address contemporary issues that affect people of Mexican origin on both sides of the border

"Talking Notes"

  1. State CHAMPS expectation and introduce the book
  2. "How many of you have celebrated the Day of the Dead?"
  3. "Why do you think the Day of the Dead is celebrated?"
  4. Ask students if they have ever seen a Calavera
  5. "Do you think Calaveras have a deep meaning?"
  6. Read pages 2 -3 to class
  7. Pause and ask students if they remember what a calavera is
  8. Go back and read the sentence that has the word "strumming"
  9. Ask students to put a thumbs up if they know what strumming is
  10. Ask students to act out with hand motions what they think strumming looks like
  11. Explain that strumming is how you brush the guitar strings in order to make the guitar sound
  12. Continue reading to page 8
  13. "Why did Posada have to move to a new city? Do you think his family was in danger?"
  14. Read up to page 12 and introduce the word intriguing
  15. Ask students to echo me "Intriguing means interesting or fascinating"
  16. Ask students to look to their shoulder partner and come up with a gesture or movement that their partner might find to be intriguing/interesting/fascinating
  17. Continue reading until page 17 and ask students what they liked about the poem
  18. "Who can point out the rhyming words in this poem? Who can tell me the joke in the poem?"
  19. Read up to page 21 and allow students to share their final thoughts of Don Lupe's Day of the Dead Calaveras meaning
  20. "What is your opinion? Is the Day of the Dead a celebration of death or life?"
  21. Review the two vocabulary words.
  22. Have students show me what strumming is and have students share with their partners what intriguing means


  1. This book was selected because majority of my class comes from an Hispanic-Spanish speaking household. The class had previously made calaveras for an art project, but they learned a lot more fact and history based on the text.
  2. The strength of the read aloud came when I read the Spanish words to the class. They immediately got excited and they couldn't believe that I knew Spanish so it made them be 100% engaged the entire time. The fact that I was able to engage them that fast, made participation during the dramatization of the vocabulary words easier than expected.
  3. What I would like to do differently next time is already have the classroom setup before the read aloud. The students had to help me rearrange desk in order to have everyone set at the carpet.
  4. Implementing multicultural children's literature that is culturally and linguistically diverse relative to my elementary students has helped me bond with the children of all backgrounds, made them more excited about reading, and helped them learn facts of other cultures.