Just a Minute!: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book

( 8 )

Overview

In this original trickster tale, Senor Calavera arrives unexpectedly at Grandma Beetle's door. He requests that she leave with him right away. "Just a minute," Grandma Beetle tells him. She still has one house to sweep, two pots of tea to boil, three pounds of corn to make into tortillas — and that's just the start! Using both Spanish and English words to tally the party preparations, Grandma Beetle cleverly delays her trip and spends her birthday with a table full of grandchildren and her surprise guest. This ...

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Overview

In this original trickster tale, Senor Calavera arrives unexpectedly at Grandma Beetle's door. He requests that she leave with him right away. "Just a minute," Grandma Beetle tells him. She still has one house to sweep, two pots of tea to boil, three pounds of corn to make into tortillas — and that's just the start! Using both Spanish and English words to tally the party preparations, Grandma Beetle cleverly delays her trip and spends her birthday with a table full of grandchildren and her surprise guest. This spirited tribute to the rich traditions of Mexican culture is the perfect introduction to counting in both English and Spanish. The vivacious illustrations and universal depiction of a family celebration are sure to be adored by young readers everywhere.

In this version of a traditional tale, Senor Calavera arrives at Grandma Beetle's door, ready to take her to the next life, but after helping her count, in English and Spanish, as she makes her birthday preparations, he changes his mind.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Winking and nodding as she goes, a Latino grandmother will charm readers as she charms Death Himself in this original counting-cum-trickster tale. When skeletal Senor Calavera appears at the door, Grandma Beetle bids him wait while she sweeps ONE house ('UNO'), makes TWO pots of tea ('DOS'), grinds THREE pounds of corn for tortillas ('TRES'), and so on, culminating in a festive birthday party at which Senor Calavera finds himself guest number TEN ('DIEZ'). As Grandma, round and brown, with sparkles in her eyes and gray hair both, bustles about, the expression on Senor Calavera's sugar-skull face grows more and more hilariously impatient — but by party's end, he's departed, leaving a thank-you note promising to be back for Grandma Beetle's next birthday. Lit with dancing lines and warm colors, Morales' illustrations enhance the appeal of this winning story even further. - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

What's an old woman to do when a skeleton pays her a birthday visit and beckons her to "come along"? Grandma Beetle, the heroine of this joyful book by the illustrator of Harvesting Hope, stalls for time. "Just a minute," she says; there's something she needs to do. One chore leads to another, but the skeleton can't mask his enthusiasm as Grandma cooks, fills pinatas, and performs other tasks, each one linked to a number from 1 to 10, uno to diez. Eventually nueve grandchildren arrive for Grandma's birthday party, and guess who else is invited? Even if children don't grasp the implications of the skeleton's visit, they'll enjoy seeing him join the fun, and when he extends Grandma's lease on life, the relieved, loving embrace she gives her grandchildren will satisfy young ones at a gut level. Like the text, the rich, lively artwork draws strongly upon Mexican culture, with hints of Diego Rivera in Grandma's robust form, and the skeleton resembling the whimsical figurines often seen in Day of the Dead folk art. Along with their useful math and multicultural elements, the splendid art and spiritual storytelling auger a long, full life for this original folktale. - Booklist, starred review

Winking and nodding as she goes, a Latino grandmother will charm readers as she charms Death Himself in this original counting-cum-trickster tale...Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When Senor Calavera, a dapper skeleton in a bowler hat, comes to call on Grandma Beetle, she puts him off with her quick thinking and her charming manner. "I will go with you right away," the pokerfaced, pleasingly plump woman promises. "I have just one house to sweep." After waiting patiently, Senor Calavera counts, "UNO One swept house," and assumes they will exit in short order. But the wily matriarch has a houseful of bilingually enumerated items with which to stall him (three stacks of tortillas to make, seven pi atas, etc.) and soon recruits the bony fellow to help. And with good reason: her nine (nueve) grandchildren are coming over to celebrate her birthday. Finally, having kissed all her grandchildren goodbye, Grandma announces that she's ready to go-but Senor Calavera has had such a good time as the party's 10th guest that he has already exited, leaving only a note that he'll be back for her party next year. Like the best folktales, the darker motivation for the skeleton's visit remains elusive for youngest readers, and the sly interplay between hostess and visitor makes light of his role. Morales (Harvesting Hope) whips up a visually striking book, and funny to boot. Her deep, glowing pastels and stylized human characterizations beautifully conjure the traditions of Latin American muralists, while Senor Calavera's ghoulish, goofy gallantry would make him the comic lead of any Day of the Dead festivity. Ages 4-8. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Vibrant contrasting colors and bold geometric shapes infuse this original trickster tale set in Mexico. Death comes to Grandma Beetle's door in the skeletal form of Se or Calavera (Mr. Skull). "Just a minute," she sweetly explains. "I have just one house to sweep." So Se or Calavera patiently takes a chair and waits, counting off Grandma Beetle's completed tasks in English and Spanish as one chore invariably leads to another. In the end, all of the hard work turns out to be preparation for her birthday party attended by her nine beautiful grandchildren, and Se or Calavera is happily surprised to be counted among the guests. After the celebration, Grandma Beetle is finally ready to join him, but death has departed without her, leaving a note saying that he looks forward to her next year's gathering and a twinkle in Grandma Beetle's eye. This story is a delight. Morales's personification of death is never forbidding or scary, but rather a simple matter of fact. This deceptively simple read-aloud treat has as many layers as an onion, and is every bit as savory.-Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Winking and nodding as she goes, a Latino grandmother will charm readers as she charms Death Himself in this original counting-cum-trickster tale. When skeletal Se-or Calavera appears at the door, Grandma Beetle bids him wait while she sweeps ONE house ("UNO"), makes TWO pots of tea ("DOS"), grinds THREE pounds of corn for tortillas ("TRES"), and so on, culminating in a festive birthday party at which Se-or Calavera finds himself guest number TEN ("DIEZ"). As Grandma, round and brown, with sparkles in her eyes and gray hair both, bustles about, the expression on Se-or Calavera's sugar-skull face grows more and more hilariously impatient-but by party's end, he's departed, leaving a thank-you note promising to be back for Grandma Beetle's next birthday. Lit with dancing lines and warm colors, Morales's illustrations enhance the appeal of this winning story even further. (Picture book. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811837583
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 9/1/2003
  • Language: Spanish
  • Edition description: Bilingual
  • Pages: 36
  • Sales rank: 202,544
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: 540L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.12 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.38 (d)

Meet the Author

Yuyi Morales is an artist, a Brazilian folk dancer, a puppet maker and the former host of a Spanish-language storytelling radio show for children. She grew up in Mexico and now lives with her husband, son and cat in Northern California.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 25, 2012

    This book is just too cute! It is so educational and yet fun! It

    This book is just too cute! It is so educational and yet fun! It teaches to count in English and Spanish. Being a bilingual book, many can learn and/or relate! The pictures are adorable with bright colors and objects. It's is also a kid-friendly way to touch on the subject of death. This sweet book is great to learn about a different culture as well. This should be in every kindergarden/first grade classroom!

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  • Posted November 21, 2012

    This book has youngsters coating their way from the beginning to

    This book has youngsters coating their way from the beginning to the end. The vibrant colored illustrations and the universal depiction of a family grab young readers attention. I highly recommend this book for any home or classroom library.

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  • Posted November 24, 2010

    "A Skeleton with Patience"

    Grandma Beetle's version of "one more bedtime story" keeps the skeleton bust so she can enjoy one more birthday with her family. This book introduces young readers to death and teaches them how to count in English and Spanish. This book has an advantage to oral teaching because students can also learn how to spell the numbers in both languages. I also loved the illustrations in this book because I felt like they allow the reader to look into a culture that may be different from their own.

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  • Posted November 23, 2010

    Highly Recommended

    This is a wonderful book to use for a counting lesson for both English and Spanish with your class. On every page there is a different number that ties into the story and yet you are still surprised at what you learn on the next page. The illustrations are brilliant and all the little added detail to the character's features is what makes them feel alive on the pages. I highly recommend this author/illustrator to everyone. Try her other book Just In Case, because at the end of this story you are going to wanting more.

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    Posted October 9, 2012

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    Posted February 2, 2009

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    Posted November 30, 2008

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    Posted November 30, 2009

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