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Coyote’s New Suit

by Thomas King, Johnny Wales, illus.

Coyote’s back and, happily, he’s caught up in another bad idea. This time, spurred on by Raven, he sets his covetous eye on his woodland neighbours’ wardrobes. In no time at all, Coyote is blithely sporting new suits around town while the forest fills up with nearly nudes and Raven bides her time waiting for the payback moment.
Thomas King, author, storyteller, and recipient of the 2004 Trillium Book Award (for The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative), has his customary fun with this third Coyote tale. Like its predecessors, Coyote’s New Suit features characters from the native American story tradition. The dialogue-laced text, reflecting King’s signature humour, energy, and contemporary edge, begs to be acted out rather than just read aloud.
King masterfully demonstrates the power of traditional storytelling to today’s youngsters. He engages interest with the age-old appeal of a traditional story introduction, classic character types, and a recurring pattern of activities. He then sets the story in the familiar context of today’s fashion obsession, yard sales, and who’s-to-blame mentality. The tale’s gentle climax is just right for younger children, although they may not understand why the story ends exactly as it began.
Children older than the four- to eight- year-olds targeted by the book’s publisher will also relate strongly to foolish Coyote and the trickster Raven. Illustrator Johnny Wales, who partnered with King on Coyote Sings to the Moon, depicts them as cartoon characters and plays up the story’s animal and human fashion foibles similarly. This book will also appeal to kids who believe, like Coyote, that “The only thing better than having one wonderful suit … is having two.”