Poor Coyote! What’s he doing, hanging upside down in the farmer’s house, next to a pot of boiling water? How’d he wind up underneath the jicara tree, getting bonked by rock-hard fruit? Who tricked him into whacking a wasps’ nest with a stick? And why is he always howling at the moon?
Because of Rabbit, that’s why! Longtime collaborators Tony Johnston and Tomie dePaola look to the folklore of Oaxaca, Mexico, for this nutty, naughty tale of trickery and hijinks. Written with sly humor and illustrated in the vibrant golds, blues, and reds of the Southwest, this is a story with a flavor as distinctive as chile peppers.
The folklore of Mexico inspires this impressive collaboration by the talented creators of The Badger and the Magic Fan and Pages of Music . After clever Rabbit sneaks into a field one evening and feasts on the biggest chiles, the farmer sets up a beeswax ``farmer'' to trap the thief. When this imposter refuses to talk the next night, Rabbit (not so cleverly) punches it repeatedly, until his paws and feet are stuck in the wax. Thrilled with his catch, the real farmer throws the rabbit in a sack and plans to cook him. But the wily lapin convinces Coyote to take his place: ``This man wants me to marry his daughter . . . but I'm too young. Why don't you take my place?'' It is the first of many ruses the gullible Coyote falls for--with uproarious results--throughout the tale, which ultimately explains why coyotes howl at the moon. Spanish expressions worked into the pictures are translated in a glossary. A good part of the humor of this pungent Zapotec legend is delivered through dePaola's droll folk art, resplendent with the bronzed and dazzling hues of the Southwest. Both the palette and the patterns used here represent a departure for the artist, who outdoes himself in this fetching book. Ages 4-8.