A trickster named Coyote rules her world, until a funny-looking stranger named Columbus changes her plans. Unimpressed by the wealth of moose, turtles, and beavers in Coyote’s land, he’d rather figure out how to hunt human beings to sell back in Spain. Thomas King uses a bag of literary tricks to shatter the stereotypes surrounding Columbus’s voyages. In doing so, he invites children to laugh with him at the crazy antics of Coyote, who unwittingly allows Columbus to engineer the downfall of his human friends. William Kent Monkman's vibrant illustrations perfectly complement this amusing story with a message.
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Grade 2-5-Coyote is in her female guise, and King reminds readers immediately that she is responsible for everything in the world-rainbows, rivers, toenail polish, and TV commercials. Her favorite thing of all is playing ball-all positions at once. But she finds it rather boring without a companion. However, the beavers have dams to build, and moose and turtles are also otherwise occupied. The humans will play, but they get rather hostile when Coyote wins every game. (After all she makes up the rules, and changes them as she pleases.) Then, three ships, Christopher Columbus, and a crew of clowns arrive. Will they play ball? No, they say, they've got to find things they can sell. No gold? No computer games? Convinced they're in India, they decide to grab some of the Native people and take them back to sell in Spain. Columbus sails away with his captives, the remaining humans catch the bus to Penticton, and when Coyote tries to fix things, what does she get? Another bunch of funny-looking clowns, led by Jacques Cartier. Monkman's illustrations are perfect. Brilliant colors are daubed onto screwball figures, and anachronisms abound. What seems a funny romp turns out to have a very sharp edge. This irreverent treatment of Columbus and his fellows may be disquieting to some, but it is long overdue.
Ruth Semrau, Upshur County Public Library, Gilmer, TX
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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