Cynthia Weill's Web Page

Mi Familia Calaca/My Skeleton Family. Stunning paper mache calacas by award winning artist, Jesus Canseco Zarate. A Junior Library Guild fall 2013 selection.

Count me in! A counting book with figurative ceramics by the world famous Aguilar sisters! Awarded the designation, A Junior Library Guild Selection for 2012.

Colores de la Vida uses work from wood, tin, ceramic and papier-mache artisans. Some of the artisans are just starting their careers. Some are considered "Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art."

The animals in this opposites book were hand carved by brothers Martin and Quirino Santiago and their family members. The Santiagos live in the hamlet of La Union Tejelapam outside of Oaxaca, City.

Each piece in this alphabet book was hand carved by brothers Moises and Armando Jimenez. Their wives and children painted and sanded the work. The figures from ABeCedarios were recently acquired by the Field Museum of Chicago.

Original embroidered cover and book jacket of Ten Mice for Tet. Each page of the book was hand sewn by Mr. Dinh and his family in the village of Quat Dong, Vietnam.


About My Books
I am a writer of multicultural children's books. All of my work uses folk arts from around the world to illustrate basic concepts for children. My current series employs handicrafts commissioned from artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico to teach children colors, numbers, opposites and the alphabet in Spanish and English. See left and my publisher's website at for lesson plans and power point presentations on the artists and their artesanias.

My new book, My Skeleton Family/​Mi Familia Calaca was a collaboration with Mexican artisan, Jesus Canseco Zarate. Each little skeleton took approximately a month to make. This book was just awarded the designation, "Junior Library Guild Selection for Fall 2013." A recent Kirkus review says, "Just right for the Day of the Dead or for a fresh take on family structures—tan lindo!"

My last work, Count me in! was four years in the making. The ceramic figures marching in parade formation were created by the internationally known Aguilar sisters of Ocotlan, Mexico. The sisters are considered "Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art," (Fernandez de Calderon 2012). It is the first time the sisters have collaborated on a project together. The ceramic figures are considered so special that they were acquired by the Field Museum in Chicago for it's permanent collection. Go to for a power point about the Aguilar sisters and the development of this book and others.

About Me
I hold a Doctorate in Education from Teachers College Columbia University. I've worked as a Spanish teacher, in humanitarian assistance and am also trained as an art historian.

To create a book I work closely with rural artisanal families. Each figure is hand made using wood, ceramics, tin, black pottery or papier mache. It takes from two to four years to complete all the art work you see in each volume.

I've always been interested in the work of artisans in developing nations. It gives me great pleasure to partner with these wonderful craftspeople and see them recognized for their lifetime achievement.

School Visits and Presentations
I am available for school visits and presentations. You can contact me directly at cweillvietnam@​ Presentations focus on how to use my books to enhance language development in Spanish and English for young children. Another favorite is talking about my experiences of working collaboratively and interculturally with artisans as well as a discussion of their artistic process.

Favorable Reviews
Starred review, Criticas Connection, Fall 2007
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, 2007

Best Southwestern Book Award 2009
Blue Ribbon, Center for Children's Books, 2009
Blue Ribbon, University of Illinois, 2009
Oprah's Book List, 2009

Colores de la vida
Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Books List 2012

Count me in!
A Junior Library Guild Selection for fall 2012

Mi Familia Calaca
A Junior Library Guild Selection for fall 2013

For more information about Mexican folk art see

Ten Mice for Tet (Chronicle Books 2004).
Ten Mice for Tet is out of print. However, I do have copies. E-mail me at cweillvietnam@​ for more information. A limited edition of hand embroidered and signed copies of the cover are also available. The original is in the Museum of Ethnologoy in Ha Noi, Vietnam.

To read up on Vietnamese embroidery and the renowned embroiderer, Pham Viet Dinh of Quat Dong, Ha Tay province who stitched the pages of Ten Mice for Tet go to http:/​/​​boutique-paintings-article-history.htm

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