cover image The Dead Family Diaz

The Dead Family Diaz

P.J. Bracegirdle, illus. by Poly Bernatene. Dial, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3326-8

Bernatene (The Princess and the Pig) revels in the bright colors and general hullabaloo of the Mexican Day of the Dead festival, while Bracegirdle (the Joy of Spooking trilogy) doesn't focus on the festival so much as use it as a setting for a humorous moral tale about differences. Angelito travels with his skeleton family up to the Land of the Living on the day of the festival (they take an elevator), and he's nervous about meeting actual members of the Living. "Did I tell you how the Living have big red tongues and bulging eyes?" his sister teases. He meets Pablo, a boy whose skeleton mask fools Angelito into thinking that he's one of the Dead. The two boys have fun until, in a double-take, they realize the truth: "Hey, you're as cold as a Popsicle!" Pablo says. "And you've got bulging eyes!" Angelito cries. Then he bolts, to reconcile with Pablo later, of course. The lesson about acceptance is a bit flat-footed; it's Bernatene's eerie artwork that really probes the nature of strangeness. Ages 5%E2%80%938. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. (Aug.)