Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Mentor Text Author Study: Yuyi Morales

As we celebrate Latino/Hispanic Heritage month, a look at the books of author- illustrator and five time Pura Belpré Award winner Yuyi Morales reminds us of the cultural contributions she’s made to the world of children’s literature.


We meet Grandma Beetle, in Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting BookIn Latin cultures, the Day of the Dead celebration is about faith and family. Using the repeated text, Just a minute, Grandma Beetle informs Señor Calavera, the skeleton from Day of the Dead celebrations,  she will go with him but she has one more thing to do, then two, then three and so on. Counting words are in English and Spanish. Morales shows readers 'A Day in the Life' of a busy Mexican abuela planning her birthday party. In fact, she has so many things to do she recruits him to help!

A year later in Just In Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book Señor Calavera is going to Grandma Beetle’s birthday party, but a ghost reminds him he should bring "the thing she would love the most" as a gift.  Señor Calavera uses the alphabet to come up with ideas that appear in Spanish. And at the end he finds the perfect gift.

Una Acordéon: An accordion for her to dance to.
Bigotes: A mustache because she has none.
Cosquillas: Tickles to make her laugh.




From the cover of Niño Wrestles the World, we know kids will encounter an imaginative, playful ball of energy.  What else would the image of a boy dressed in a lucha libre mask, his underwear, and tennis shoes tell you?  Kids also encounter fun onomatopoeias, action, Spanish vocabulary, and Mexican folklore.

The opening:

“¡Niño! ¡Niño! ¡Niño! ¡Niño!”
Señrora’s y Señoritas
Put your hands together for the
fantastic, spectacular one of a kind…

Kids also encounter fun onomatopoeias, alliteration, action words, Spanish vocabulary and Mexican folklore.



Niño returns in Rudas: Niño's Horrendous Hermanitas when the little luchador tangles with two luchadoras, his sisters introduced at the end of  Niño Wrestles the World.


Dreamers is a picture book memoir of Morales’ immigration to the United States. It is as much about a mother’s love and dreams for her son, as it is about her own story about falling in love with children’s books.  The art and lyrical language are in perfect harmony.

One day
We bundled gifts
in our backpack,
and crossed a bridge
outstretched like the universe.

In her backpack the art shows a guitar, a raining cloud, a flower, a Day of the Dead skeleton, a howling coyote, a pencil, and more. These are all things and experiences that Morales brought with her from her homeland.

The back matter includes a bibliography of books that inspired her and still do. In telling  her personal story she begins with, “All of us have stories. Each of them is different.”

It's easy to see why the stories Yuyi Morales creates inspires us to write our own. 


  1. Yuyi's work is so easy to love - it's universal and the her art is so vibrant. TY for bringing her work to ReFoReMo for those who may not know of her yet. Great post, Keila.

  2. Ooooh, she's sooo good! But you don't have one of my favorites here. Little Night is a-m-a-z-i-n-g!!

    1. But, yes, I know it wouldn't suit your theme.....but still, it's my FAVORITE!! LOL

    2. I love that one too! I love all her books. :)