Sunday, July 8, 2012

Review: Just A Minute!

Just A Minute!: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book by Yuyi Morales

In this story, Grandma Beetle is visited by Senor Galavera, a skeleton man, to take her to her next life. However, Grandma Beetle is in the middle of planning for her birthday party. Grandma Beetle asks Senor Galavera to wait while she does things around the house. She has to sweep one house, boil two pots of tea, make three tortillas, slice four fruits, melt five cheeses, cook six pots of food, fill seven pinatas with candy, and arrange eight platters of food on the table before her nine grandchildren get there for the party. Senor Galavera is not happy when her list of things to do gets so long. Grandma Beetle invites Senor Galavera to be the tenth guest at her birthday party. After she party, she hugs her grandchildren and tells Senor Galavera that she is ready to go. He is nowhere to be found. Senor Galavera left a note for Grandma Beetle to tell her how much fun he had at her party and that he will for sure be back for next year's festivities.

This book counts everything in both English and Spanish. The story is in English, but when the number has to be repeated a second time, it is written in Spanish. This is a great book for using with young Spanish speaking English Language Learners or even with young children who are being taught Spanish. This book includes both languages as well as a great insight into the traditions of Mexican culture.

At the beginning of each counting page, the same script is written. Grandma Beetle tells Senor Galavera that she has one more task to do. The repetition of the script before the number and task comes in helps children see the pattern and understand that the book is about the counting. When one and uno are written on the page, they are written in bold and in larger font in order to emphasize them.

Yuyi Morales is also the illustrator of this book. The pages are filled edge to edge with color in this story. Bright oranges, pinks, and yellows are the main colors on most of the pages. These colors represent warmth and the reader feels Grandma Beetle's love. Towards the end of the book, when Grandma Beetle is hugging her grandchildren goodbye, you see the color goes from bright and light on the left to darker on the right. This shows that the end is getting closer for Grandma Beetle. On the last spread when you see the note Senor Galavera has left, the opposite it true, it is darker on the left and it gradually gets a little bit lighter on the right because Grandma Beetle has another year.

There are no straight lines in this story. The whole thing is drawn with swirling lines. Even objects like the table and stove are drawn with a round edge. This could represent the fluidity or sense of magic in the story.

This picturebook is recommended for preschool and primary elementary school level children.

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