Mi Familia Calaca / My Skeleton Family: A Mexican Folk Art Family in English and Spanish

By Cynthia Weill
Illustrated by Jesus Canseco Zárate

Paperback: $11.95


Welcome to the family! 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.

Cynthia Weill's bilingual collaboration with artist Jesus Canseco Zarate teaches young readers basic information about relationships, while also celebrating the colorful tradition of Mexico's Day of the Dead. Canseco Zarate long-limbed sculptures are a playful twist on traditional Mexican iconography of the skeleton that stretches back through the country's art history to José Guadalupe Posada's engravings and Aztec sculpture.


¡Bienvenidos a la familia! 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 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.

La colaboración bilingüe entre autora Cynthia Weill y artista Jesus Canseco Zarate le enseña a lectores jóvenes información básica sobre familias, al mismo tiempo celebrando la tradición colorida del Día de Muertos. Las esculturas de brazos largos de Canseco Zarate le dan un toque juguetón a la iconografía Mexicana tradicional del esqueleto, que se ve a lo largo de la historia artística del país, hasta los grabados de José Guadalupe Posada, y las esculturas Aztecas.

About the Creators

Thumb_preview Cynthia Weill - Author

Cynthia Weill holds a doctorate in education from Teachers College Columbia University. She has worked as an educator and in the field of international development. She has been fascinated with Oaxacan crafts since 1996 when she taught in Mexico through the Fulbright exchange. She is on the advisory board of the Friends of Oaxacan Folk Art Foundation whose mission is to promote and preserve the artists and artisanal work of the state. She has published eight books that feature the folk art of Oaxaca.

Jesus Canseco Zárate

Jesús Canseco Zárate is a Oaxacan folk artist known for his elaborate calacas (skeleton statues). In 2008, he won first prize in the Friends of Oaxacan Folk Art completion for young artists. His work has been showcased in local, national, and international galleries and venues. Currently, Jesús works as an artistic photographer in the Oaxaca and Mexico City area. His work can be seen online at