Sunday, April 5, 2009

REVIEW: Just In Case

Morales, Y. (2008). Just in Case: A trickster tale and Spanish alphabet book. New York: Roaring Brook Press.


While on his way to Grandma Beetle’s birthday party, a ghost informs Senor Calavera that he has forgotten her gift. What follows is a list of possible gifts listed alphabetically—by the Spanish alphabet, with each object being named in Spanish, but with illustrations and English descriptions.

The illustrations are beautiful. With wonderful use of color, they share Hispanic images and symbols. (Plus, there’s a blue butterfly for students to find on each page) All of the illustrations show great attention to detail and humor. (My favorite is at the beginning when Senor Calavera irons his tie while wearing it—totally something I would do…if I wore ties.)

For kids from a Hispanic background, this book can be very empowering to see in a classroom, especially since this is also the book that won an ALA Belpre award this year.

Activities to do with the book:

Beyond helping young readers with the alphabet (in which case this book would need to be a read aloud by an adult as it is text-heavy), it can also be used with older students learning Spanish to provide some fun and new vocabulary words (among them cosquillas (tickles), granizado (snow cone), titere (puppet) etc.).

This book could also be shared with children around birthdays and other gift giving occasions to help children think of ideas to give people of all ages.

The story could also be tied into a talk on El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead—November 1st and 2nd). But if used for this purpose, don’t present Just in Case as a book about the holiday. Rather, share it as an example of what talking about such a holiday could inspire students to write creatively.

Favorite Quotes:

“At last the day had arrived. It was Grandma Beetle’s birthday!”

“Oh , my. He had forgotten a present for Grandma Beetle!”

“You surely must know, the best present to give a friend is the thing she would love the most.

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