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The Coyote Under the Table

Kirkus Reviews

Eight tales of tricksters and magical transformations are given a Southwestern setting by a veteran storyteller and paired to Spanish versions on facing pages.

Despite occasional common folkloric elements, the stories are not just regional variations on “Cinderella” and other well-worn chestnuts. In “If I Were an Eagle / Si Yo Fuera Águila,” for instance, an orphan lad with the ability to turn himself into various animals rescues a kidnapped princess from a giant but marries the shepherd’s daughter who saves him from a bear. A village comedian subsequently answers three supposedly impossible questions to save a beloved priest in “What Am I Thinking? / ¿Qué Estoy Pensando?” and in “Caught on a Nail / Enganchado en un Clavo,” a clever young woman fools three persistent suitors into terrifying one another. Other tales feature a magical ring that sows dismay by doubling and redoubling the wearer’s strength, a spotted cat who leads a young third brother to riches and (in the title story) a coyote and an old dog who put aside their traditional enmity to become allies. Each tale opens with a realistically detailed black-and-white scene to set the comic or dramatic mood.

Though previously published (in English only) by a small press as Everyone Knows Gato Pinto (1992) and also available in audio versions, these wise and witty tales continue to repay fresh encounters. (source notes) (Folktales. 10-12)
- October 28, 2011 

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