________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 6 . . . . October 9, 2009


A Coyote Solstice Tale.

Thomas King. Illustrated by Gary Clement.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2009.
64 pp., hardcover, $14.95.
ISBN 978-0-88899-929-0.

Subject Headings:
Coyote (Legendary character)-Juvenile fiction.
Consumption (Economics)-Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 6 / Ages 5-11.

Review by Lisa O'Hara.

**** /4

Reviewed from f&g's.

A Coyote Solstice Tale is a humorous look at the holiday season told from the point of view of a little girl and some forest animals. Using rhyming verses and in a way that children can understand, King contrasts rampant consumerism with the simpler joys of friendship, a comfortable home, and beautiful surroundings. Gary Clement's full-page watercolor illustrations are colorful and expressive, perfectly matching the text on each page. My only criticism is that the book isn't larger in size since it would be much easier to read it to a group of children if it were a little bigger, and with the story-line, rhymes and pictures, it is perfect reading material for a class or library story-time.

internal art

     To make his point, King tells the story of Coyote and his friends who are gathering together for a Solstice feast when a surprise visitor, a little girl dressed up as a reindeer, shows up. Coyote isn't sure what to do with her:

But there's ever the matter of manners
And tradition, it's always been said
Insists that all guests be made welcome
Insists that all guests be well fed.

You've arrived just in time chirped Coyote,
For our feast is about to begin.
You're not at all late,
Let me get you a plate.
Are you sure it's the right house that you're in?

     After eating, the child falls asleep, and Coyote and his friends decide to follow her tracks through the snow to take her back from where she came. At the end of the tracks, they are surprised to find a huge shopping center that hadn't been there the year before. In they go and discover the "rough herds of humans" with "murderous looks in their eyes" shopping and pushing and shoving one another to buy things to make their holidays happy. The animals huddle together in shock, but consumer fever catches Coyote who goes on a huge shopping spree. Until, of course, he's asked to pay for his purchases:

The stars overhead were resplendent
When Coyote slouched out of the mall
I'm sorry you all had to see that,
Said the girl with the red rubber ball.

That's why I pretend I'm a reindeer
And put these two sticks in my hair.
I'd much rather live in a generous world
Where everyone knows how to share.

     The animals leave the girl with her parents, promising to visit for longer next year, and return to the forest and their feast where they continue their Solstice festing in lovely surroundings. In the end, Coyote appreciates what he has - we think!

Highly Recommended.

Lisa Hanson O'Hara is a librarian and mother of three in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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