From Publishers Weekly
This “splendid” adaptation of a Zuni folktale, PW said, is “perfectly paced for an amusing read-aloud, with illustrations that are equally accomplished.” Ages 4-8. (May)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2-A short, uncomplicated story in which Coyote decides he wants to fly with the crows. They humor him, give him feathers, and tolerate his offkey singing and out-of-step dancing, until he begins to boast and order them about. Then, as Coyote struggles in midair, they take back their feathers one by one and he plummets to earth. His tail catches fire, and he tumbles into the dirt. To this day he is the color of dust and his tail has a burnt, black tip. The full-page illustrations, executed in gouache, colored pencil, and pastels, are brilliantly colored, with bold patterns, angular forms, and orange backgrounds. Children will enjoy the visual portrayal of Coyote, who is blue, vain, eager, and heedless of consequences, and they will laugh at the pictures of the various troubles he gets himself into at the start of the book. Although the art communicates Coyote’s vivid personality, the story is not as charming as some of McDermott’s other trickster tales. There is less cleverness, humor, and buoyancy, and more antagonism, in this story. Coyote is a troublemaker, of course, but his antics often make readers laugh. Also, he seems less fully realized than some of the author’s previous characters. Still, the book provides an introduction to an important folklore character and is strikingly illustrated. There are no notes on the story’s source, but McDermott does provide a note on Coyote and refers to the people of the Pueblo of Zuni as excelling in telling Coyote tales.
Marilyn Iarusso, New York Public Library
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Ages 2-5. McDermott’s 1994 Caldecott Honor Book, Raven, is about the trickster-hero. Here McDermott turns to the trickster-fool character so common in Native American folklore. Coyote is a big, bumbling, interfering copycat; he’s rude, boastful, vain, and always in trouble. The storytelling is simple, with the casual, direct tone and satisfying repetition of the oral tradition (”He was going along, following his nose. He had a nose for trouble . . . Coyote was always in trouble”). The art combines traditional geometric design with the jagged figure of Coyote, all exaggerated pointed shapes in brilliant blue with a lolling red tongue. He cavorts against a background of warm rust-brown desert; he tries to fly with the beautifully synchronized black-and-purple crows who circle the canyon and soar in the sky. Of course, he falls ignominiously into the dust. And to this day, “He has a nose for trouble. He always finds it.” This is great for storytelling: kids will love the slapstick action and the bright, comic art about this gawky fool. As McDermott points out in the lively source note, Coyote is very foolish–and very human. Hazel Rochman