Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead

By Judy Goldman • Illustrated by René King Moreno
Boyds Mill Press • 2008 • 32 pages
Hardcover ($16.95)
ISBN 978-1-59078-425-9
Ages 7-9

Every year, Lupita and her aging Uncle Urbano wait for the monarch butterflies to return to Mexico for the winter. He reminds her never to capture or hurt a monarch butterfly, for they represent the souls of dead relatives. The butterflies always arrive just a few days before the celebration of the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), on November 2. Uncle Urbano passes away a few days before November first, and so this year, the holiday will be very special for Lupita as she celebrates the life of her beloved uncle.

Lupita’s family prepares an altar with pictures of their dead relatives, their favorite foods, and skulls known as calacas.  Lupita adds her uncle’s favorite toys and a plate of his favorite dish, enchiladas. On November first, the family goes to the cemetery to clean the graves, decorate them with flowers, and pray and sing to remember their loved ones, including Uncle Urbano. Bright colored-pencil illustrations bring the monarch butterflies to life with hues of orange and black as they gather on the branches of the trees near Lupita’s house.

Read Related: DIY Day of the Dead Mask

Parents may use this book to explain the Day of the Dead to children as well as a science lesson about the migration of the monarch butterflies from the United States to Mexico. The back of the book includes information on the Day of the Dead, and a glossary of Spanish words used in the English language text.

Reviewed by Dr. Veronica Covington, School of Information, University of Texas, Austin