Bringing Día de los Muertos to life
A melancholic Senora Bones asked many animals to help retrieve her cherished, stolen, tiny guitar or "guitarrita." and after many tries it was finally the tiny ant that succeeded.
With that backdrop one student at Woodburn's Washington Elementary School story-time gathering offered up her interpretation of the tale: "You don't always have to get a big person to help you; sometimes little people can help you."
The girl's response was to the tale "Senora Bones and her Guitarrita: A Tale for Dia de los Muertos", as students in fourth-grade teacher Fabiola Gavina Zavala's class, along with guests from other classes, heard the tale from the book's co-authors, one of whom was their teacher.
The authors invited students to take part in the tale as it unfolded, with a number of students playing the various roles, including Senora Bones, a raccoon, a bear, a sneaky skunk, and even the successful ant.
Students were also encouraged to quickly exchange ideas among themselves during the tale. For instance, have you ever smelled a skunk? What does it smell like? Cinnamon?
One young lad determined and shared that a skunk smells more like "some kind of strong gas."
Gavina Zavala explained to the students that when she was little, their family did not have books at home, and her papa would make up for that by setting aside time to conduct and tell stories. The story of Senora Bones was one of her favorites.
Co-author Kelly Carlos Freeman — who was one of Gavina Zavala's teachers — agreed with her former student, and the first step was underway in seeing the Senora Bones tale become a published one.
It is a part of Red Road Books, which features multi-cultural voices inspiring young readers.
"Always remember, if you like a story you can always write them down," Carlos Freeman advised the students.
Like her co-author, Carlos Freeman is also a teacher, working in the Canby School District, while the book's vivid illustrations were created by her husband, Jose Carlos.
The authors delivered their tale to two Washington Elementary classrooms on Friday, Oct. 19, well in advance of the celebration of the Dia de los Muertos, which begins on Wednesday, Oct. 31 and ends Friday, Nov. 2, this year.
"The book celebrates our Aztec tradition of Dia de los Muertos and features Spanglish humor," Carlos Freeman noted.
Both authors are alumni of Pacific University's Woodburn campus. They have scheduled additional upcoming readings: Friday, Oct. 26, at Woodburn's Pacific University campus; Saturday, Oct. 27, at Tualatin Public Library; and Friday, Nov. 2, at the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg.