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Coyote Sings to the Moon

by Thomas King, Johnny Wales, illus.

Old Woman sings to the moon every night, and the other animals decide to join her in song. But when Coyote tries to sing along, everyone begs him not to because of his awful singing voice. Miffed, Coyote withdraws, muttering “that silly Moon is so bright, I can hardly sleep. Why, I wouldn’t sing with you if you begged me.” Moon is so insulted that she dives into the pond below, leaving the world in darkness. As Old Woman and the animals search for her, Coyote stumbles around until he accidentally falls into the pond, where Moon is relaxing on the bottom playing a game of chess. Eventually, Coyote’s hideous singing drives Moon back up into the sky. Coyote volunteers to watch every night and sing to the Moon whenever she tries to come too close to the earth.

Thomas King’s delicious fusion of the traditional tale and modern idioms makes this a brilliant book. King’s Coyote is part traditional trickster and part 1950s greaser, as we see him “taking out his comb and brushing his coat, checking his teeth with his tongue, and wiping his nose on his arm” before singing to the Moon. Despite his preening he endures the inevitable humiliations, such as being sprayed by a cheerful skunk and having his mouth tied shut with his tongue by Old Woman. Johnny Wales’s illustrations likewise manage to fuse ancient and modern; the trees of his forest are reminiscent of traditional Japanese paintings, while Coyote’s body language evokes Wile E. Coyote of cartoon fame. His style is a perfect match for King’s deadpan humour, and the marriage of the two will have young and old alike laughing out loud.


Reviewer: Joanne Findon

Publisher: Key Porter


Price: $18.95

Page Count: 40 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 1-55013-946-0

Released: Nov.

Issue Date: 1999-2

Categories: Picture Books

Age Range: ages 5–9