Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book
Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book
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Annotation: As Senor Calavera prepares for Grandma Beetle's birthday he finds an alphabetical assortment of unusual presents, but with the help of Zelmiro the Ghost, he finds the best gift of all.
Catalog Number: #6514881
Format: Paperback
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Square Fish
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 40
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-250-18849-0
ISBN 13: 978-1-250-18849-6
Dewey: E
LCCN: 2007044061
Dimensions: 27 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
The title page includes an invitation to Grandma Beetle's birthday party, and Señor Calavera can't wait to go. A moan from beyond the grave reminds the not-too-scary dapper skeleton that he's forgetting a present. Zelmiro the ghost admonishes Calavera to choose something that Grandma Beetle will love the most. What follows is an alphabetic array, from "Un acordeon, An accordion for her to dance to," to "yerba buena. Good herb to soothe her day." With each gift Calavera chooses, Zelmiro praises the skeleton's choices but cautions him to keep searching "just in case . . ." Drenched in rich hues, the light-filled illustrations add a whimsical dimension to this trickster tale and Spanish alphabet book. When disaster strikes and all the presents fly from Calavera's bike basket, there is nonetheless a happy ending that brings both story and alphabet to a rollicking conclusion. This companion to Morales' award-winning Just a Minute (2003) will be a hit for storytime.
Horn Book
Ghost Zelmiro reminds dapper skeleton Senor Calavera that he forgot a gift for Grandma Beetle's birthday. Calavera quickly gathers presents, ("Dientes...Una Escalera"), which get ruined. All ends well: in a sweetly surreal conclusion, "Grandpa Zelmiro" materializes. Morales's full-bleed art, in brilliant sunset hues, portrays an amiable, dreamlike world where weightless, comfortably rounded figures swirl joyously among a creative assemblage of gifts.
Kirkus Reviews
Even better, if possible, than its predecessor, Just A Minute! (2003), this original trickster tale pitches Senor Calavera (i.e., Death—rendered as a skeleton topped by a hilariously expressive sugar skull) into a frantic hunt for birthday presents for his elderly friend Grandma Beetle. Enter Zelmiro the ghost, a white-haired gent with twinkling eyes, who helpfully suggests that "the best present to give a friend is the thing she would love the most." But what could that be? Bigotes (mustaches), because she has none? Un Chiflido (whistle) trapped in a bag? Fretting about how much of the party he's missing, Senor Calavera collects something for every letter of the Spanish alphabet from Acordeon to Yerbabuena —but then an accident leaves him with nothing...or does it? Richly hued and filled with action, the illustrations capture the tale's humor and Latin flavor perfectly, leading on to an entirely logical, hilarious and heartwarming surprise at the end. Even better, if possible, than its predecessor, Just A Minute! (2003), this original trickster tale pitches Senor Calavera (i.e., Death—rendered as a skeleton topped by a hilariously expressive sugar skull) into a frantic hunt for birthday presents for his elderly friend Grandma Beetle. Enter Zelmiro the ghost, a white-haired gent with twinkling eyes, who helpfully suggests that "the best present to give a friend is the thing she would love the most." But what could that be? Bigotes (mustaches), because she has none? Un Chiflido (whistle) trapped in a bag? Fretting about how much of the party he's missing, Senor Calavera collects something for every letter of the Spanish alphabet from Acordeon to Yerbabuena —but then an accident leaves him with nothing...or does it? Richly hued and filled with action, the illustrations capture the tale's humor and Latin flavor perfectly, leading on to an entirely logical, hilarious and heartwarming surprise at the end. As gifted an artist as she is a storyteller, Morales is in top form here. (Picture book. 6-9)
School Library Journal
Gr 13 Señor Calavera, a dapper skeleton wearing a fedora and striped tie, receives an invitation to Grandma Beetle's birthday party. Zelmiro the Ghost reminds him that he needs to take a present and suggests that "the best present to give a friend is the thing she would love the most." The silent Señor Calavera collects gifts alphabetically, including an accordion ( una acordeón ) to make music for her, a jaguar to protect her ( un jaguar ), and 15 more years to add to her life ( quince años ). As these thoughtful gifts fill his bicycle basket to overflowing, the shimmering ghost encourages him to keep looking. When the skeleton loses control of his bike on the very hill where Zelmiro was buried, all the beautiful gifts are ruined. Grandma Beetle is blowing out her candles when the Señor finally arrives with the perfect tributeGrandpa Zelmiro, who is a ghost no longer. Luminous, jewel-tone spreads chronicle the collection of gifts and pay homage to a rich Mexican culture. A comic book ( una historieta ) cleverly recalls Señor Calavera's first meeting with Grandma Beetle in Just a Minute (Chronicle, 2003). The floating, semitransparent form of Zelmiro the Ghost becomes the solidly human form of Grandpa Zelmiro, who lovingly embraces his wife. Part ghost story and part alphabet book, this trickster tale transcends both. Librarians will want to share it for the beautiful language, the spirited artwork, and the rightness of the ending. Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist
Horn Book
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal
Word Count: 878
Reading Level: 2.3
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 2.3 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 129752 / grade: Lower Grades
Lexile: AD530L

It's Grandma Beetle's birthday, and Señor Calavera (a skeleton from the Day of the Dead) doesn't know what to bring to her party. "Don't worry," says Zelmiro the Ghost. "You surely must know, the best present to give a friend is the thing she would love the most." So instead of choosing just one gift, Señor Calavera chooses: Un Acordeón: An accordion for her to dance to. Bigotes: A mustache because she had none. Cosquillas: Tickles to make her laugh. Un Chiflido: A whistle he trapped in a bag. And so on. . . . This companion to Yuyi Morales's Pura Belpré award-winning trickster tale, Just a Minute, is a stunning picture book that functions both as a Spanish alphabet book and a marvelous story.


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