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Just a Minute!: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (Pura Belpre Medal Book Illustrator (Awards)) Hardcover – September 1, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* PreS-Gr. 2. 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 [BKL Je 1 & 15 03], 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. The splendid paintings and spirited storytelling--along with useful math and multicultural elements--augur a long, full life for this original folktale. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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

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

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 540L (What's this?)
  • Series: Pura Belpre Medal Book Illustrator (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 36 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; Library Binding edition (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811837580
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811837583
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Yuyi Morales is having a great year. After creating a series of deft and meaningful illustrations for Kathleen Krull's heartfelt Cesar Chavez picture book, "Harvesting Hope", she wrote and illustrated a second 2003 Pura Belpre winner. "Just a Minute" is both a trickster tale and a basic counting story. Taking the dark conceit of outwitting death through meticulous partying, the story is a delightful dance with the macabre.

It is Grandma Beetle's birthday, and a most unexpected guest is at the door. Standing as nice as you please is Senor Galavera. The handsome skeleton informs the older woman that it is just about time for her to go away with him. Grandma Beetle delays him, asking to have time to sweep her ONE house. Then she has TWO pots of tea to boil. Next, it's THREE pounds of corn to make into tortillas. As more and more time goes by the previously patient Senor Galavera becomes more and more impatient. Finally, it's party time and the finicky skeleton finds that he's had so much fun that he'll be sure to come back for Grandma Beetle's birthday at the same time next year.

Who can resist the idea of outwitting Death himself through a simple counting game? Better still, for every English number pronounced there's a Spanish one for easy translation. But as fine an author as Ms. Morales is, she's an even better illustrator. First of all, Senor Galavera is a fabulous site. Anyone familiar with a skeleton from the Day of the Dead will appreciate his appearance. Sporting a jaunty fedora and a delicately detailed body, he's really quite attractive. His mouth is a series of blue and orange alternating stripes. His eyes are the stars of the anise seed. Better yet, along his vertebrate, forearms, forehead, and kneecaps are tiny intricate details.
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Format: Hardcover
Senor Calavera has come to fetch Grandma Beetle, and she's ready to go, only she has a few small chores to do, if he'd be so kind to wait as she counts them off.

I'm not normally very impressed with counting books or multi-language books, as it can be hard to teach something and maintain a good story. Morales has sought to teach two separate things in this book--counting and a little bit of Spanish--and has done so with commendable skill. Story quality has not been sacrificed in any way, leaving readers with an educational book which is also entertaining.

The artwork is interesting, with the humans given very round, almost cartoonish faces, but alongside very detailed eyes. Not so much as to be unsettling, but enough to create a definite unique style. There's also a definite stylistic influence from Mexican culture in the artwork.

A must for public libraries, but give it a check out from there before buying for a private home. They'll only need to learn to count to ten for so long, so might as well go for more long-term books.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this children's book to have a very grown up meaning dealing with death. Senor Calavara has come to take Grandma Beetle into the afterlife when he knocks on her door. However, Grandma Beetle has some tricks up her sleeves for Senor Calavara. Grandma Beetle is clever as she make Senor Calavara wait "just a minute" until she reaches all ten of her daily chores and is ready to go. The pictures show the chores Grandma Beetle had to do before she was ready to go and just how impatient Senor Calavara was getting with each chore. I enjoyed the bright colors used in the pictures throughout the book. I also liked seeing the numbers in English and in Spanish to show the children how the numbers go together in sequence. This book was a good read and it kept you wondering what Grandma Beetle had to do next.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Terrific fun for me and my four-year old. This book is funny, sweet and packed with lush illustrations. I can't wait to see more form Yuyi Morales. Her most recent illustration work, that I know of, is Sherman Alexie's _Thunderboy, Jr._, another fantastic book, but I still hope to see more from Ms. Morales!
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Format: Hardcover
The author has done a phenomenal job with this funny trickster tale and also with the colorful bright illustrations.

This tale engrained in the rich traditions of Mexican culture brings a story of a grandma, who outwits her death with her busy life. She has one house to sweep, two pots of tea to boil, three pounds of corn to make into tortillas, and more.

The counting up to ten is in English and Spanish. It is written in a very enjoyable language and should be easily understandable for the young audience.
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A Kid's Review on January 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It doesn't matter which language you speak, you'll enjoy this hilarious trickster tale. Grandma Beetle tricks and annoys the strange skeleton, Senor Calavera, by saying, "Just a minute!" over and over again. The skeleton, who never speaks, may have been there to take her life. Each time she delays Senor Calavera, something funny and interesting happens. The sly look in Grandma Beetle's eyes lets you know that she is tricking Senor Calavera. Recommended for people of all ages, but use carefully with young children who may be afraid of skeletons.
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Format: Hardcover
When first glancing at the cover page, I was bit confused as to what the plot would be about. As I kept reading through this non-fiction picture book, I began to see that this was a very fun and creative counting book for children in which brings both Spanish and English into the text. This was also a plot driven book in which we start off with a problem, go through a few obstacles, and then end with a resolution.

Senor Calavera arrives at Grandma Beetle's house saying that it's time to go. In return, Grandma Beetle starts off by saying "Just a minute Senor Calavera, I just have one house to sweep." Next Grandma Beetle continues with her chores, increasing the number of things to do as you turn the page. As the book is increasing in the number of things to do around the house, you will notice that there are pictures with exactly however many items the text is pertaining to. The illustrations are so bright and vibrant; very colorful as well. At the end of the book Grandma Beetle is finally finished with her chores as it's now time for her birthday party. Senor Calavaras was to make guest number ten at the dinner table, yet he has disappeared. He therefore has left a letter saying that he had a blast at the party with Grandma Beetle, and that he will be back next year.
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