Mi familia calaca/My Skeleton Family

A Mexican Folk Art Family in English and Spanish

By: Cynthia Weill
Illustrator: Jesus Canseco Zárate
Welcome to la familia! Papá, mamá, abuelita. The fifties kitsch of Familia introduces readers to a family just like theirs.


Teacher's Guide for Mi Familia Calaca

Welcome to the family!
¡Bienvenidos a la familia!

It's just like yours: father, mother, sister, brother, abuelita, gato, even a great-great grandmother. Well, but there's something just a little bit different about this particular family. Maybe it's those clothes they wear...just a little bit fashion backward. And the colors! So vibrant and...lively. Maybe that's what it is. They are just so full of life while looking almost other worldly.

Es justo como la tuya: papá, mamá, hermana, hermano, abuelita, gato, hasta un a vis-abuela. Pero hay algo un poco diferente sobre esta familia. Tal vez es la su ropa…es un poco anticuada. Y los colores! Tan vibrantes y…vivos. Tal vez eso es, solo están llenos de vida, al mismo tiempo pareciendo de otro mundo.

Awards and Accomodations

Junior Library Guild, Cooperative Children's Book Center Choice, 2014
Bank Street's Best Children's & Young Adult Books of the Year, 2014

5 reviews for Mi familia calaca/My Skeleton Family

  1. Publishers Weekly
    Oaxacan folk artist Zárate creates papier-mâché sculptures of Day of the Dead–style skeletons that grin widely as a young skeleton named Anita introduces her family…Zárate’s sculptures exude personality.

  2. Kirkus Reviews
    Though they are skeletons, this family couldn’t be friendlier…The details traditional Oaxacan artist Canseco Zárate includes charm as fully as Weill’s crunchy vocabulary…They may be dead, but their affection is palpable. Just right for the Day of the Dead or for a fresh take on family structures—tan lindo!

  3. School Library Journal
    The photographed Oaxacan folk-art figures will make readers smile as each one has a fixed grin, as one would expect from a well-dressed skeleton…This book would be a welcome and culturally relevant addition to beginning-reader collections. —Maricela Leon-Barrera

  4. Midwest Book Review
    For a bilingual, bicultural experience with a little macabre slant, read Mi Familia Calaca / My Skeleton Family with your elementary school student or child.

  5. De Colores: The Raza Experience in Books for Children
    [G]reat fun for the youngest children — both hablantes and English speakers — and can lend itself to a plethora of art projects during celebrations of El Día de los Muertos, and any other time as well. Highly recommended. —Beverly Slapin

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