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The Coyote Under the Table

School Library Journal
Hayes has a perfect storyteller's voice, and the words flow on the page as though children were listening to the tale in person.
In the title story, a dog makes friends with his former enemy, Coyote. Thinking that he is no longer useful, the canine is about to be put down by his masters. But Coyote has a plan for him to prove his worth, and the dog is later able to repay the favor. Some of these stories have visible roots in European folklore, but they are all distinctly Hispanic. In a version of "Puss in Boots," Gato Pinto, a spotted cat, saves a young man from the treachery of his jealous brothers. In another, a boy gets the power to turn into an ant, an eagle, and a lion, and uses his skills to rescue a fair maiden. Hayes has a perfect storyteller's voice, and the words flow on the page as though children were listening to the tale in person. The Spanish versions are equally readable and tellable. These tales are a gift to librarians and others who are looking for Latino folktales to share. The illustrator finds the most memorable moments in the stories and brings them to life with feeling. The action is delightful, as are the sometimes hilarious facial expressions. Hayes includes source notes about the provenance of these tales and the changes that he made in his retellings.—Tim Wadham, Children's Literature Consultant, Fenton, MO
- Tm Wadham, January 1, 2012 
Midwest Book Review
It is impossible to open this book without wanting to finish it, or without laughing!
“The Coyote Under the Table / El Coyote Debajo De La Mesa” by Joe Hayes, a gifted teller of folktales in English and Spanish, is a collection of ten humorous folktales in English and Spanish for a middle to young adult reader audience. A Junior Library Guild Selection, “The Coyote Under the Table” is completely self-motivating bilingual quality education for young adults and kids. Every story begins with a witty charcoal sketch of the main characters and proceeds in a format with the left page in English and the right page in Spanish. It is impossible to open this book without wanting to finish it, or without laughing! Joe Hayes is a master of the ironic, comic storyteller’s art, recognized throughout the United States for his bilingual tales from roots of an Hispanic culture in northern New Mexico. “The Coyote Under the Table” gives everyone who reads it a taste of wry wit, good humor, and fun, New Mexican flavored (with chili peppers)!
- February 1, 2012 
Kirkus Reviews
"These wise and witty tales continue to repay fresh encounters."
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 
Once again Hayes intrigues and amuses with this charming compilation of 10 classic tales from the Latino communities of northern New Mexico.
Once again Hayes intrigues and amuses with this charming compilation of 10 classic tales from the Latino communities of northern New Mexico. The collection—which has the most in common with Hayes’ picture book A Spoon for Every Bite (1996)—expresses the magical realism of many Latino traditional tales and the vibrancy of protagonists within the oral tradition. Like in The Day It Snowed Tortillas (1995), Hayes retells in both Spanish and English, capturing the authenticity of characters such as el perro viejo and el coyote, who enjoy pozole and tortillas under a family dinner table. Another tale features Gato Pinto, a guardian cat who loyally aids his owner, Juan Cenizas, in outwitting his greedy brothers. Each of the tales, structured as individual chapters, opens with a beautiful full-page pencil sketch by Castro. With Hayes’ talent to entertain, each chapter can stand on its own as an intermediate elementary classroom readaloud or as a vehicle through which to study Latino folklore.
- Angie Zapata, February 1, 2012 
Horn Book
[R]efreshing depth and humor…The tales … will delight.
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 
Tucson Citizen
"...filled with colorful characters and laugh-out-loud stories. Two standouts are “The Little Snake” and “The Man Who Couldn’t Stop Dancing.” These bilingual stories are certain to engage readers of all ages."
- February 24, 2012 

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