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Coyote School News Hardcover – July, 2003
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From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4-An entertaining bit of historical fiction set in 1938-1939. His country may be preparing for war, but fourth-grader Monchi Ram'rez wishes that President Roosevelt would turn his attention to fixing the bumpy roads leading from his family's southern Arizona ranch to the area's one-room schoolhouse. His schoolmates are white and brown, rich and poor, but united in their affection for their teacher, Miss Byers. Monchi narrates a year's worth of episodes at school and at home, telling of a vaquero roundup, a broken wrist, Nochebuena feasting, and the elusive Perfect Attendance award. Interspersed are full-page issues of the Coyote News, the student-produced newspaper. The text is long enough to be a beginning chapter book; however, Sandin's sensitive watercolor illustrations and the "mimeographed" newspaper pages necessitate the larger, picture-book format. The text is peppered with Spanish words and phrases, and a glossary with pronunciation guide is appended. Without didacticism, this book shows readers that Mexican traditions have been part of the American cultural landscape for generations, yet the book's appeal is broad and not limited to social studies units.
Eve Ortega, Cypress Library, CA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 2-4. Set in southern Arizona during 1938 and 1939, this episodic story offers a vivid portrayal of school and community life as observed by fourth-grader Monchi Ramirez. Monchi lives on the ranch his great-grandfather built in Mexico, on land that later became part of the U.S. Mexican culture is still strong in the area and Spanish words dot the narrative. Often their meaning can be gleaned from context, but an appended Spanish word list provides translations and pronunciations. The school year and student newspaper provide the book's structure; newsworthy events include Halloween and Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) celebrations, the Rodeo Parade in Tucson, and Monchi's first roundup. This brightly illustrated picture book will work well for middle-grade readers who don't demand chapter books; it can also be read aloud to somewhat younger children. Drawn with a keen sense of what will interest children, the pencil, pen, and watercolor artwork is richly colored and detailed. Monchi's narrative provides a pervasive sense of period and culture within an appealing story that will be a fine choice for reading aloud in the classroom. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
Monchi, a fourth grader, tells about the big events of the year, like Miss Byers' swell idea to start a newspaper, and the Halloween party and roundup on the ranch. And everyone writes stories or draws pictures for the "Coyote News" paper, which is printed in the book, so we can read about the nurse's visit and Christmas wishes and Miss Byers' radio and Loli's lost tooth and the school's float at La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in Tucson.
Joan Sandin weaves these events into an absorbing story that easily incorporates some Spanish words (a glossary is provided.) Her bright, detailed pictures tell even more about ranch and school life and about the twelve children of Coyote School. To look at their group picture on the last day of school and then back at their first-day picture is to see how well we have come to know each one, and how pleased we are at how they've grown.
This lively story should fascinate kids, who will discover that in spite of the unique setting and the long-ago time, Coyote School children aren't all that different from themselves. The range of the children's ages makes it a great book for family read-alouds. And it's just the kind of book a good teacher looks
for: it's full of information, but first of all,it's a good story.