The Spirit of Tio Fernando

Title: The Spirit of Ti'o Fernando/El espi'ritu de ti'o Fernando
Publisher Albert Whitman & Company, Morton Grove, Illinois, 1995
Author: Janice Levy (Text), Morella Fuenmayor (Illustrations)
Genre: Latino and Latina Literature/Multiple Ethnicities
Summary This children's picture book is suitable for Grades 3-5. The book is written in both Spanish and English. It gives students an appreciation of the century old Hispanic holiday, The Day of the Dead. It illustrates a traditional way Hispanic culture remembers and honors their lost ones. Written from a young child's perspective it describes the rituals and offerings of this holiday. In a soft and beautiful way it answers the child's central question: "Mother, How will I meet Ti'o's spirit? Will I see him? Will he make noise? How will I know it is really him?. Grade A.
Use in the classroom This book teaches students that the greatest gift those who have died can leave with us is their living memories, the things they shared with us and the little things that make us like them. Rather than grieving the loss of a loved one, it teaches reverence for their spirit and joy in their memory. The book can be used in the classroom in a variety of different ways. It can be used as part of a celebration of The Day of the Dead holiday replete with sample offerings, breads, etc. It can be used as part of a mosaic/theme on Hispanic holidays and traditions. It can be used as a vehicle for Hispanic students to share their experiences with Anglo and students of other nationalities. As part of an exploration of this and other traditions, perhaps a grandparent of an Hispanic student can come into the classroom and discuss Hispanic traditions and holidays as they remember them growing up. Finally, this book can be used as a delicate way to explore the issue of death with young students and ways of examining death from the perspective of a celebration of life and living memory.
"Tell me how you die, and I will tell you who you are…To the inhabitant of New York, Paris or London death is a word that is never uttered because it burns the lips. The Mexican, on the other hand, frequents it, mocks it, caresses it, sleeps with it, entertains it; it is one of his favorite playthings and his most enduring love.
Octavio Paz, The Labyrnth of Solitude (Grove/Atlantic, Inc. 1961)

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