________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 5 . . . . October 29, 1999

cover The Red Bandanna.

David John Smith.
Victoria, BC: Orca Book Publishers, 1999.
151 pp., paper, $7.95.
ISBN 1-55143-138-6.

Subject Headings:
Coyote-Juvenile fiction.
Ranches-Juvenile fiction.
Pets-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 4 - 8 / Ages 9 - 13.
Review by Liz Greenaway.

*** /4


The coyote cocked his head to one side. His slender, intelligent face looked very curious. Jake took a bite out of one of his last two cookies and chewed. This, you could see on the coyote's face, was interesting. Then Jake broke off a piece of cookie and tossed it onto the ground about halfway between them. Very interesting. The coyote stood, looked all around, sniffed in the direction of the cookie, then casually moved a metre or so closer. He sat down again. Jake appeared to take another bite. The coyote sniffed and sniffed. Very, very interesting.
Recently arrived from the big city, 11-year-old Jake Grant is just beginning to adapt to life on a ranch in the Cariboo district of the British Columbia interior when he and his friend Willy discover that a pregnant coyote has decided to bed down in the Grant's woodshed. While this discovery excites all of Jake's family, it has a profound effect on Jake who tends to the pregnant coyote day and night, hardly able to leave for school or eat meals. Through his relationship with Shadow, readers see Jake change, not just in terms of city boy learning to live in the country, but of a boy learning to take on responsibilities in the world around him and grow into the man he will become. These changes are not lost on Jake's parents who slowly accept him as an equal hand on the ranch, as well an individual able to make his own decisions.
     I enjoyed the descriptions of Jake's relationship with Shadow, although I sometimes wished the author would show, rather than tell, the reader about the profound effect Shadow was having on Jake's life. However, Smith's ear for dialogue is excellent, and I found the passages between Jake and Willy, as well as between Jake and his parents, to be very true. Also convincing is the reaction of the Grant's neighbouring rancher, who is less than pleased to find that his neighbours are harboring a coyote, a situation which causes much tension in the Grant household as they are unsure as to what lengths the neighbour will go to rid them of their much beloved guests.
     A touching story of friendship and love, this novel is an excellent choice for a young animal lover, as well as a natural choice for a classroom read-aloud. Interior black and white illustrations by Ljuba Levstek nicely complement the text.


Liz Greenaway has worked in bookselling and publishing and is currently residing in Edmonton, AB.

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

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ISSN 1201-9364