Honors and Awards
* Nominee for Bay Area Book Reviewer's Association Children's Book of the Year 2003
* Junior Library Guild Selection, 2003
* Children's Book of the Month Club selection
Kirkus starred review
"In this rollicking gallop of a tale, the rhyming couplets provide the forward impetus and the ordinary, but tense situation supplies the humor. While on a Sunday drive with her parents, a little girl announces that she has "gotta go." Unfortunately all of the nearby shops are closed, but they manage to get directions to a restaurant from a construction worker. Once there, of course, they find a long line of girls and women waiting for the bathroom. Although writing primarily in English, Elya employs several dozen Spanish words and phrases, sometimes even in rhyme with English words. Her contexts explain all of the Spanish usages, but even so she includes a glossary. Perfect for bilingual classes stretching their English wings, this is also an accurate reflection of the way in which bilingual speakers move back and forth between languages, as well as a charming way to introduce Spanish to English speakers. Karas' characteristically sunny illustrations are bright and blocky, both detailed and childishly simple. The text highlights all Spanish words in bold. Appropriate for all children's collections: a real winner. (Picture book/poetry, 3-8)."
School Library Journal
"This sweet story follows a little girl and her parents as they drive around town on a Sunday looking for a bathroom. Elya uses the trip to introduce readers to a bit of Spanish vocabulary: "Papá checked the bakery -- la panadería,/but it wasn't open because of the día." The book concludes with a glossary and pronunciation guide. Karas's trademark illustrations reflect the light mood of the text and will help children figure out the unfamiliar words. The bright colors and mix of pictures from small insets to full spreads provide visual interest and pacing for the story. This is a clever way to introduce a language to young children, but it suffers from being a tad too long. Children might not be able to hold on until the end."
---Tali Balas, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
"Readers need not be bilingual to enjoy this tale about the potty predicaments of traveling youngsters. While on a Sunday drive with her parents, the narrator --a girl in her white-dress finest with bow atop curly brown hair -- innocently proclaims from the backseat her urgent need for a bathroom. Elya packs the pages with more than 50 Spanish words and phrases and uses a repetitive format (and glossary at the end) to clarify any meanings that cannot be inferred from context. "On Sunday, domingo, the sign says cerrado./ The baker is tired. He feels muy cansado," the girl's father says as they search for a restroom on quiet streets lined by colorful Latin-esque buildings with tile roofs and brick-edged windows. Using the two languages does not detract from the basic humor of the situation familiar to any parent . . . Perky, mixed-media art matches the brisk pace of the text. Karas's characters with their large round heads on pencil-thin necks appear alongside scribbles of purple crayon and wide brushstrokes, and he varies the perspective from inside and outside of the car. The text often snakes around spot illustrations set against warm-hued backgrounds, appears in speech bubbles and is sometimes backed by collage accents of floral wallpaper. A sure reminder to visit the baño before leaving home. Ages 4-8." (June)
"Here's an exuberantly illustrated charmer that combines a common childhood experience and a new language. The young narrator is in the car with her parents, when she says, "Where is un baño? ¿Dónde está? I really do need one," I told mi mamá. Thus begins a frantic chase though town, looking for a bathroom. Since it's Sunday, most places are closed, but the family is directed to a blue restaurant, where the girls and ladies in the long line gladly let the little girl go first. Elya does a fine job of making the poetic text work while incorporating the Spanish in to the rhyme scheme. Not every word is made clear through context, but most are and there's a glossary appended for the rest. Karas' pencil-and-watercolor artwork captures the sense of motion and urgency -- the lines of the text swirl around the pictures in a go-go fashion."
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, the University of Chicago (starred review)
"Out for a Sunday drive with her parents, a little girl is happily ensconced in the back seat (her favorite spot) until she is overcome by an overwhelming urge: "Where is un baño? Donde está? I really do need one,' I told mi mamá." Madre and padre waste a few precious moments asking why the other didn't check to see if their daughter had to go before they left the house; meanwhile, the erstwhile (and nearly floating) narrator intones piteously, "I drank lots of juice," bringing the crux of the crisis home. The family drives around seeking a restroom, but all the shops are closed. Finally, a desperate Papá asks for directions: "Papá saw a worker out pouring cemento. He backed up to ask the big stranger --extraño, Rapido, Mister! Please, where is un baño?" The little girl makes it into the bathroom of an elegant restaurant with no time to spare; then she and her parents sit down to dinner --during which the little girl drinks lots of limonada. The unexpected rhyming of the English and boldface Spanish words give the rhythmic text an ebullient humor enhanced by Karas' understated gouache, acrylic, pencil, and collage illustrations. The palette is sunny southwest pottery colors -- clay oranges, sky blues, and dusty green -- and the spreads are a mix of full-and half-page compositions and small vignettes. The text and illustrations provide the little girl's perspective, from her view of her parents' heads via her perch in the rear, to her "Hurry, Papá. ¡Rápidamente!" as she drums her heels frantically on the back seat with the intense look of a child in serious need. The power of suggestion being what it is, listeners will be laughing themselves silly all the way to the baño. A glossary and pronunciation guide is appended." JMD
July 30, 2003
"While we're talking Spanish, let me also recommend Oh No, Gotta Go! by Susan Middleton Elya (Putnam, $14.99). Elya has single-handedly created a new category of picture book -- the Spanglish hybrid. In six previous books, she has woven Spanish words into an otherwise English text, telling winning stories while smoothly introducing new vocabulary. Oh No . . . is perhaps the most fun installment yet, in part because the illustrations by G. Brian Karas are kooky and witty; in part because every kid (and parent) can laugh at the universal childhood dilemma -- the car trip interrupted by the urgent need to pee."
--- Sue Corbett
Contra Costa Times
"Danville author Elya has taken a parent's recurring dilemma and turned it into a humorous bi-lingual book for children ages 4 to 8. Mamá and Papá and their daughter are in the car when these words are heard. "Where is un baño?" ¿Dónde está? True to life,the family searches desperately for the necessary bathroom, driving past a gushing fountain and finally confronting the inevitable line at the ladies' room in a restaurant. Imaginative illustrations convey the family's urgency. The author's clever insertion of Spanish words in a rhythmic pattern makes this a delightful introduction to another language. This book's great fun for parents and children alike."
--Barbara Sloane, Bookmarks