"El Dia de los Muertos is not a time to feel sad or afraid of death. It is a time for familias (families) to come together, share memories of past loved ones, and celebrate the joy of being alive!" - From the book
Up we go!
With colorful hats, sweeping dresses, bow ties and festive garb, author and illustrator Richard Keep commemorates the Mexican celebration known as the El Dia de los Muertos in the book Clatter Bash!: A Day of the Dead Celebration.
Happy skeletons climb out of their entombment to frolic about the graveyard, driving in cars, splashing in fountains, watering marigolds, singing songs, telling stories and feasting at picnics.
Replete with vibrant images in greens, purples, oranges and yellows, the first 26 pages of Clatter Bash! depicts a simple, rhyming, alliterative poem showing the fun that the dead have when the Day of the Dead begins (usually November 1 or 2).
A mix of English and Spanish phrases underscores the clanking and jittering antics of the smiling skeletons that have risen for this special fiesta.
In two pages at the end of the softcover story, the author explains the late-October celebrations that occur in the villages of Mexico and many places in the United States, as well as the meanings of several Spanish words and phrases.
For example, children dress up as angelitos (angels), diablos (devils) and calacas (skeletons) to parade around the village with their parents, yelling Hola! amidst music and merry-making.
From ofrendas (home altars) to traditional foods, graveyard picnics to common greetings, Richard Keep describes the mood, purpose and accoutrements surrounding this special holiday.
As the author/illustrator says, "El Dia de los Muertos is not a time to feel sad or afraid of death. It is a time for familias (families) to come together, share memories of past loved ones, and celebrate the joy of being alive!"
Clatter Bash! not only offers a wonderful opportunity for cultural education, but also a reason to explore the topic of death. In fact, its upbeat tone and pictures would likely bring comfort to those mourning the loss of a loved one. I lost my Dad in March of this year and haven't really properly grieved yet, but this book gave me a smile and a new way of seeing his passing. Perhaps I may even make my own little Day of the Dead celebration this year.
On a poignant note, the author/illustrator dedicates Clatter Bash! to Joe Lucas, who inspired this book on his deathbed.