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Coyoteís 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 doesnít seem to be dealing with an entirely full deck. Heís 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 stuff.

The outcome of all this is the reason why animals and humans donít 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 childrenís 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.

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