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Yuyi Morales honored with Tomás Rivera Children’s Book Award

Date released: 09/16/04

SAN MARCOS – Trickster tales have played an important role in every human culture since the dawn of time, and Yuyi Morales has tapped that venerable tradition for her bilingual children’s book, Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book.

The award will be presented to Morales in a ceremony at 6 p.m. Sept. 16 at the Southwestern Writers Collection in the Alkek Library on campus. Earlier that day, Morales is scheduled to speak to university students, faculty and visitors at 2:30 p.m. in the LBJ Student Center Ballroom with a book signing to follow.

Other scheduled events for Morales include a speaking engagement and book signing at 7 p.m. Sept. 15 at the San Marcos Public Library; a visit to Camino School in San Antonio on Sept. 17; and a 6 p.m. speaking engagement and book signing at the San Antonio Public Library later that evening.

When the skeletal figure of Señor Calavera arrives unexpectedly one day to escort Grandma Beetle to the netherworld, her quick thinking saves the day. “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 preparations, Grandma Beetle cleverly delays her trip and spends her birthday with a table full of grandchildren and the gullible Señor Calavera.

For her efforts, Just a Minute has been honored with the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award for books published in 2003. The award, established at Texas State University-San Marcos in 1995, is designed to encourage authors, illustrators and publishers to produce books that authentically reflect the lives of Mexican American children and young adults in the United States.

In addition to her talents as an artist and author, Morales is a Brazilian folk dancer, a puppet maker and the former host of a Spanish-language storytelling radio show for children. In addition to writing and illustrating Just a Minute, Morales has also contributed illustrations for Todas las Buenas Manos by Francisca Isabel Campoy, Sand Sister by Amanda White and Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull. She grew up in Xalapa, Mexico.

Texas State developed the Tomás Rivera award to congratulate and acknowledge authors and illustrators dedicated to depicting the values and culture of Mexican Americans. Rivera, who died in 1984, graduated from Texas State with both his bachelor's and master's degrees before receiving a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma. A Distinguished Alumnus of Texas State, Rivera published his landmark novel in 1971 titled ...y no se lo tragó la tierra/ ...And the Earth Did Not Part. In 1979, Rivera was appointed chancellor of the University of California-Riverside, the first Hispanic chancellor named to the University of California system.

For more information on the Rivera Award, please visit