Funny Bones
Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras
  • Imprint: Abrams Books for Young Readers
  • Publication Date: August 25, 2015
  • Price: $18.95
  • Trim Size: 9 x 11
  • ISBN: 978-1-4197-1647-8
  • EAN: 9781419716478
  • Page Count: 40
  • Illustrations: Full-color illustrations
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Rights: World/All
  • Additional formats:

Discover the story behind José Guadalupe Posada’s iconic Día de Muertos skeletons in this fascinating picture book from award-winning creator Duncan Tonatiuh

A Robert F. Sibert Award Winner, Pura Belpré Illustrator Honor Book, and ALA/ALSC Notable Children's Book!

Funny Bones tells the story of how calaveras came to be. The amusing figures are the creation of Mexican artist José Guadalupe (Lupe) Posada (1852–1913). Lupe learned the art of printing at a young age and soon had his own shop. In a country that was not known for freedom of speech, he drew political cartoons, much to the amusement of the local population but not that of the politicians. He continued to draw cartoons, but he is best known today for his calavera drawings. They have become synonymous with Mexico’s Día de Muertos festival.

Calaveras are skeletons performing all sorts of activities, both everyday and festive: dancing in the streets, playing instruments in a band, pedaling bicycles, promenading in the park, and even sweeping the sidewalks. They are not intended to be frightening, but rather to celebrate the joy of living as well as provide humorous observations about people.

Award-winning author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh relates the pivotal moments of Lupe’s life and explains the different artistic processes he used. Juxtaposing his own artwork with Lupe’s, Tonatiuh brings to light the remarkable life and work of a man beloved by many but whose name has remained in obscurity.


"Tonatiuh further marks himself as a major nonfiction talent with this artistically beautiful and factually accessible offering that effectively blends artistic and political content for young readers."
Kirkus Reviews
"Playful but informative, this picture book offers a fascinating introduction to the artist and his work."
"The beautifully expressive Day of the Dead–inspired illustrations on heavy paper pages sport borders of bones, grinning skeletons, and Tonatiuh’s signature figures shown in profile, influenced by the ancient Mexican art of his ancestors... A stunning work, with great possibilities for lesson plans or tie-ins with Day of the Dead."
School Library Journal

About the author

Duncan Tonatiuh was born in Mexico City and grew up in San Miguel de Allende, in the historical state of Guanajuato, Mexico. Duncan Tonatiuh studied writing and illustration at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City. His illustrations are inspired by the ancient Mixtec art. Duncan’s first book, Dear Primo: A Letter to my Cousin, won a Pura Belpré Illustration Honor; Diego Rivera: His World and Ours won the Pura Belpré Illustration Award and the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award; Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale was featured on the front cover of USA Today, received a Pura Belpré Illustration Honor for illustration and narrative and the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children Book Award; Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and her Family’s Fight for Desegregation, received a  Pura Belpré Illustration Honor, a Robert F. Sibert honor for best informational book, and the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children Book Award; Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Boook, won the Robert F. Sibert award for best informational book, earned a Pura Belpre Illustration Honor, and the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children Book Award. Duncan currently lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, with his wife and child.