Coyote’s New Suit
Reviewed: March 29, 2005
By: story by Thomas King / illustrated by Johnny Wales
Publisher: Key Porter Books
36 pages, $19.95
Tom King loves to write about Coyote, one
of the goofier trickster figures of the first nations mythology which informs
his writing. His version of this character doesn’t seem to be dealing with
an entirely full deck. He’s a lovable, bumbling sort of fellow who wreaks
havoc with each new obsession.
When you combine him with the ever wise
and tricky Raven, weird things can happen. Certainly it is Raven who triggers
this misadventure by getting Coyote interested in the suits of other animals,
which the curious one then appropriates while their owners are cooling
off in the swimming hole. Imagine their surprise.
Raven then sends the suitless ones off to
get clothes from the humans, which he tells them are hung on lines outside
their houses when their owners no longer want them. You can see a mess
developing here. Coyote soon ends up with a closet too full of suits. His
fellow animals are unhappily clad in human clothes, and the humans are
in their underwear. No one is very happy at this point.
Raven suggests that Coyote hold a yard sale.
This, of course, is when everyone finds out what actually happened to their
The outcome of all this is the reason why
animals and humans don’t talk to each other any more.
King tells this tale with real gusto, and
with quite a few more words that you find in the average children’s books.
In that sense, you get a lot for your money. On the other hand, most of
the suggested readership of four to eight year olds will never master this
book without help.
What will keep them interested long enough
to get the book read to them is the illustrations, which are bold and amusing,
and really do help to tell the tale.
This is the second collaboration by this
team, the first having been Coyote Sings to the Moon.