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The Coyote Under the Table

Horn Book

Hayes’s latest collection of bilingual folktales drawn from the Hispanic New Mexico oral tradition adds refreshing depth and humor to folklore collections. Ten stories are told in English and Spanish on facing pages. A girl befriends a small snake she finds in a cabbage and is granted a wish in exchange. A magic ring doubles the wearer’s strength every time he blesses himself, which becomes problematic when worn by the unwary reverent. A coyote helps an old dog save his reputation and thereby his life, and the dog looks to repay the coyote “under the table.” Brief source notes expand on the history of each tale and add social/historical context, hinting at the stories’ evolution from the European-Spanish to the New Mexican, in which the tables are often turned on those in power. While child readers might appreciate a little more explanation, the tales themselves will delight that audience, and the notes are suitable for adults interested in developing a discussion. Hayes’s clean and unencumbered prose draws attention to the structure and rhythm of the stories; they read best aloud. Humorous black-and-white single-page illustrations face the start of each entry.
- Nina Lindsay, March 1, 2012 

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