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Just a Minute!: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book
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Just a Minute!: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,229 ratings  ·  286 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 36 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Chronicle Books
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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  1,229 ratings  ·  286 reviews

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Moral of this story: Don't go up against grandma.
You just do. not. mess. with. grandma.

Grandmother Beetle is totally ready to go with Senor Calavera when he shows up on her doorstep, she just has to do this one thing. Then they can go. Well, after these two things. And so on.
It's a fun counting and building story but it's the bright, informative, emotive illustrations that really make the tale worth telling and seeing.
On a personal level, I love that death is not scary, that Grandmother Beetle a
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
I loved this art style in Los Gatos Black on Halloween but I wasn’t sure I’d like these illustrations in a non-Halloween book. I did. A lot. I especially like the cat that appears on every page and the nine grandchildren who appear on several pages.

This is a fun trickster tale and it works really well as a bilingual English-Spanish counting book, with the story told in English and the counting of numbers 1 to 10 in both English and Spanish. I really enjoyed the humor in the book, as Grandma Beet
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone Looking for Creative Counting Books / Yuyi Morales Fans
When Señor Calavera ("Mr. Skull") knocks on Grandma Beetle's door, and indicates that it is her time to come with him, he does not expect to spend the next few hours watching her perform a series of tasks, or to join her birthday celebration, also attended by her nine grandchildren. But the heroine of this entertaining counting book from the fabulously talented Yuyi Morales - an author and illustrator whose gorgeous work can be seen in books like Little Night and Harvesting Hope: The Stor ...more
Westminster Library
Trickster tales are in virtually every oral history around the world and celebrated author Yuyi Morales brings one to the page in this book. It's Grandma Beetle's birthday and all her family are here to celebrate but there's one uninvited guest... Señor Calavera. Using counting words in Spanish, wonderful illustrations and facets of Mexican culture this trickster tale will be well received for a long time.

Find Just a Minute! at the Westminster Public Library!

I loved this fun tale of trickery. The woman is sneaky as she wears out Señor Calavera. It would do well paired with Keeper of Soles as that also is a case of tricking death. I love Yuyi Morales' vibrant artwork and the playfulness of both the text especially the illustrations. I'm eager to share this book with my students. I know they will enjoy counting in Spanish as we read. ...more
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
Love it. I’m always getting teased by my family for replying “just a minute!” to anything asked of me. This book just proves how useful that could be one day 🤣. The child enjoyed it too!
Tessa Ann
Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
On an old woman's birthday an unexpected visitor arrives. A skeleton, arrives and wants Grandma Beetle to go with him. To stall she starts to do chores around the house. Until her grandchildren arrive to the house they don't understand why the skeleton is there but they enjoy having him around. The skeleton then extends the grandmothers life and lets her continue on with her grandchildren. I would have to say that this book has a weird twist to it. I like the idea that you are expecting death to ...more
Ro Menendez
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This trickster tale had me laughing and imagining my students wearing skeleton painted shirt made by themselves and acting out Señor Calavera's patience wearing thin. Grandma Beetle always agrees it's time to go with Señor Calavera, but right after one more task she needs to do. Readers will delight as Grandma Beetle even gets Señor Calavera working! Finding out why Grandma keeps postponing her leave, what she's preparing for and why, might leave readers a little misty eyed, but it will soon go ...more
Cliff Bathke
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-summaries
1.Señor Calavera (death) 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 (death) changes his mind. the illustrations are beautiful in this book.
2. Grades K-3
3. I would pair this when teaching numbers and teach both English and Spanish counting to the kids.
4. Students who are struggling to learn to count would love this book.
5. In small groups I would have the students make a book
Allie Walsh
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
I really like how this book incorporated Spanish numbers into it when counting the things to do! It also does a good job of teaching the importance of patience. Also the illustrations were bright and very appealing telling a story in itself.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I loved this story and the illustrations! I enjoyed the nice surprise ending too. I must read more by Morales. Highly recommended!
Elena S.
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Excellent counting book for ELL Students.
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: childrens
I love Yuyi Morales. The illustrations are incredibly nuanced and I love drinking in each beautiful page. Just A Minute is delightfully funny. (Bonus cute kitten on every page!)
Michelle Burton
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love this book! Great to read for Hispanic Heritage Month or teaching about multicultural folktales.
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
hard to understand. i would not read to young children because there would need to he a lot of explaining as you read.
Mar 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A very fun counting book where a cute grandma outwits senor calavera in order to prepare for and celebrate her birthday. Bright colors and playful perspectives give this book a joyful quality.
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Beautiful illustrations!
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great story and AWESOME illustrations. I LOVED LOVED LOVED the colors!
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ameryn by: Pine River Library
Shelves: kids
Lucas (3.5) loves this one; he loves to locate the cat in each picture, as well as count all the items.
Rebecca Alvarez
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just a Minute! by Yuyi Morales is a great book for many reasons. This book tells the tale of a an old woman who is delaying her trip with Senor Calavera. It it setup like a counting book with each page going up in numbers until 10. It also shows the numbers in Spanish. Senor Calavera is getting very impatient with Grandma Beetle prolonging her trip but ends up with a change of heart.

I believe this book showed some high qualities in diversity but also lacked in other areas. Children's Literature
Merry Jelks-Emmanuel
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This adorable story will draw children all the way in with Grandma Beetle's antics along with Senor Calavera. As the story builds children find themselves saying Just a Minute along with Grandma Beetle! I loved the Spanish flavor given to the story to introduce children to it through eh foods served as well. ...more
Nov 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A delightful trickster tale, ode to the power of grandmas, and spooky-ish story.
Senor Calavera shows up at Grandma Beetle's door to take her away, but she gets him to give her more time as she makes preparations for a party.

Love the angles and colors in the art.

(view spoiler)
Elizabeth Daly
Title: Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book
Author: Yuyi Morales
Illustrator: Yuyi Morales
Genre: Non-Europen Folktale
Theme(s): folklore, counting

Opening line/sentence: “When Grandma Beetle woke at dawn, she heard a knock at the door.”

Brief Book Summary: Grandma Beetle heard a knock on the door and was greeted by a surprising guest, Señor Calavera, a skeleton who wanted Grandma Beetle to come with him right away. Grandma Beetle agreed to come with him after she completed ten tasks, thi
Tessa Duncan
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: counting, spanish, death
When Senor Calavera (a symbol for death) comes for Grandma Beetle, she manages to outsmart him by making him wait just one minute more. Then she asks Calavera to wait until she makes to two cups of tea, then wait for her to make three tortilla and so on. Eventually Calavera helps Grandma set up her own birthday party and leaves once he realizes she has nine grandchildren. This story is a creative spin on counting books and includes the numbers in both English and Spanish.
Mason Hazelwood
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: diversity
A fun book that incorporates counting in two languages as Senor Calavera is told “just a minute” on every page. Grandma Beetle was a busy woman and always had a task to do, which pushed off going with Senor Calavera. He was a skeleton and she was a hard working Afro Latinx woman. With big family values and a home to upkeep and preparing for her grandchildren the list kept piling. This story goes through numbers 1-10 in English and Spanish, and each number represents a different activity she has ...more
Nov 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Genre: Children’s, Counting


A skeleton named Senor Calavera arrives at the door of Grandma Beetle, thinking her to be an easy target. Using her wits and clever thinking she manages to escape his invitation and solicit his help in completing the tasks for her birthday party. By delaying his departure, Grandma Beetle entertains Senor Calavera and so enchants him that he does not take her away and promises to return to enjoy future festivities.

Using a combination of English and Spanish numbe
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Diverse picture book (ages 4-5, counting).
* Book prominently features diverse characters: I love Yuyi Morales' dynamic illustrations of this Mexican trickster grandma and her family. Even the skeletal Senor Calavera looks very alive, and the inclusion of the spanish numbers (as well as the english) is also great.
* Appropriate for a preschool storytime (ages 3-5 years): Large, colorful illustrations and a funny, interactive counting story. I could definitely read this to preschoolers, provided th
Andrew Everson
Through this novel it depicts a old women who was growing of age and a Skeleton came and said it was time to go. I think this signified that it was time for her to pass away. But throughout the entire store she said that she had one more thing to do but in counting the author used English first and then used the number in Spanish. Not only is this book teaching kids about life but also counting skills in another language. This book would be great for a class in the grades of 2-4th.
Love Grandma Beetle's sparkly hair!

So very polite Senor Calavera is, he only shows his frustration at Ocho platters of food to go on the table.
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Yuyi Morales is the illustrator of Kathleen Krull’s Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, whose accolades include a Pura Belpré Award and a Christopher Medal, as well as the Pura Belpré Award-winning Los Gatos Black on Halloween by Marisa Montes. Born and raised in Mexico, she now lives in northern California.

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