Module Five - Los Gatos Black on Halloween
This lively bilingual Halloween poem introduces young readers to a spooky array of Spanish words that will open their ojos to the chilling delights of the season. Follow las brujas as they ride their broomsticks and los esqueletos as they rattle their bones and dance at the Halloween ball. Of course, the scariest creatures of all are saved for last!
APA Reference of Book
Montes, M., & Morales, Y. (2006). Los gatos black on Halloween. New York, NY: Henry Holt.
While not truly bilingual, I thought Montes was able to incorporate many Spanish words into the text in an easily understandable way. Morales' artwork reflects her childhood in Mexico and conjures up images of Día de los Muertos. There are all kinds of references to Mexican culture in the illustrations - just look at what the characters are wearing, the surrounding buildings, and even the tombstones! I would recommend this book for 1st to 3rd graders who are ready for something a little bit scarier as a Halloween read.
What the Professionals Say
A cat’s green eyes stare out from the book’s cover. Inside, there are more of los gatos—as well as las brujas (witches), los fantasmas (ghosts), and los esqueletos (skeletons) looking like they have come from a dia de los Muertos celebration. The pithy, rhyming text tells a frightening, if familiar, story. The ghosts and ghoulies are off to a Monsters’ Ball at a Haunted Hall, and though there’s plenty of scary stuff around, the guests are most frightened by the children who come knocking at the door for trick-or-treat. Montes’ evocative poem deserves exceptional artwork, and Morales obliges. Her soft-edged paintings glow with the luminosity of jewels, and her witches, werewolves, and corpses are frighteningly executed. Therein lies what may be a problem for preschoolers. These fiends aren’t particularly kid-friendly; they are dead-eyed, Day of the Dead folk who scare. For slightly older children, however, this spookiness is what Halloween is all about. The Spanish is neatly integrated into the text, but for those who need clarification, a glossary is appended.
Cooper, I. (2006) [Review of Los gatos black on Halloween by M. Montes & Y. Morales]. Booklist, 102, 22.
A Suggestion for Use in a Library Setting
This book would be a great way to introduce the holiday of Día de los Muertos to 2nd and 3rd graders. My library community is somewhat diverse so while some families will know about the Spanish holiday, others will be unfamiliar with it. I would also read Calavera Abecedario: A Day of the Dead Alphabet Book by Jeannette Winter and Clatter Bash! A Day of the Dead Celebration by Richard Keep. Then have two craft stations set up. At the first, have copies of the books so the kids could look at the illustrations. Then they could create collages. I would have black paper and lots of different shapes pre-cut for them to use. Also scissors, glue sticks, tissue paper, letter stickers, and markers for them to use. At the next station, have wooden spoons available so they could make skeleton spoon puppets with markers and sequins.