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Hungry Coyote by Cheryl Blackford

Hungry Coyote

by Cheryl Blackford

Other authors: Laurie Caple (Illustrator)

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This is a little different from the nonfiction picture books I usually get excited about and I have some concerns about the accuracy, but it would be great to spark a discussion with kids.

The story follows a male coyote through four seasons. It begins in the cold winter as the coyote hunts for food under the snow. Next comes spring and the coyote mates and has cubs, still hunting for food in the ponds and woods. In summer there is more food to be found both in the wild and in the urban areas the coyote moves through; he and his family enjoy a treat of stolen sausages. Finally, fall arrives and winter returns. A brief informational note discusses how coyotes adapt and live in both urban and rural environments.

The big draw for me is the lovely artwork. Caple's rich illustrations show the coyote's quiet integration into urban life as he slinks through the fields, across bridges, and by roads. The effortless detail not only gives an accurate picture of the coyote's behavior but also parallels it to human life, as he watches humans interact with the seasons as well. There are also different things to find in the pictures, like the vole the coyote is hunting or the soft whiteness of falling snow.

My main issue is with the text. It feels as though it is struggling to be poetic but only ends up sounded forced. "Coyote skulks until everyone leaves. He drools, darts, and snatches." or "Near the shore, water birds snooze in feathery flocks. Shaggy shadows stalk, bounce, and pounce." It's not exactly poorly written, it's more that it would make a difficult read-aloud to wiggly children because of the wordiness and while I enjoy teaching kids new words, there are too many unfamiliar adjectives to dump on them all at once. My other concern is factual - the coyote who is the main protagonist of the story is clearly male. He dens with his mate, hunts for the pups, and then takes them out to teach them to hunt. That didn't sound right to me; a quick search informed me that while male coyotes may hunt for and regurgitate food for their pups, the female doesn't allow them in the den and they do not stay together as a "family". Also, the female teaches the pups. Of course, I'm not an expert in coyote behavior and they are very adaptable, but females, not males, teaching pups to hunt and survive is fairly common in animal life and I found it exasperating that the author chose to...give the coyotes' traditional gender roles? I don't know, maybe I'm overthinking it. I would like some fact-checking and more sources listed though to justify this.

Verdict: I loved the art, not so much the text. This is a small press title and therefore more expensive, but the lack of materials on coyotes makes it a strong purchase for my library. If I used it in storytime we would probably discuss the pictures though and skip most of the text. I won't wholeheartedly recommend or not recommend this; I feel like I don't know enough about coyote behavior to accurately judge.

ISBN: 9780873519649; Published 2015 by the Minnesota Historical Press; Borrowed from another library in my consortium
  JeanLittleLibrary | Jul 22, 2016 |
One hungry coyote attempts to feed his growing family through the seasons. In some seasons finding food is hard for the coyote, in others, it is easier. Coyote has to do all of this around people, too which makes his job even harder.

Hungry Coyote is a wonderful children's environmental education book perfect for a large age range of kids from 4-12. There are great descriptions of the weather that uses alliteration, rhyming and a larger vocabulary. There are also very realistic descriptions and pictures of how coyotes hunt, what they eat and their habitat. Overall, this book provides a good view into how an animal that a lot of people live near lives their own life and interacts with humans.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. ( )
  Mishker | Mar 17, 2016 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cheryl Blackfordprimary authorall editionscalculated
Caple, LaurieIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0873519647, Hardcover)

From winter hunts to picnic foraging, Coyote makes his deliberate way through the seasons in his urban habitat. His adventures come to life in this lavishly illustrated tale.
Down at the lake, Coyote is hunting, eager to fill his empty belly. When winter ice crackles, springtime frogs warble, summer thunderclouds threaten, and autumn leaves tumble, Coyote searches for his next meal. He stalks voles, rabbits, snakes, and geese, but there’s no guarantee he’ll catch his dinner. If his stomach growls, he’ll steal vegetables from a tidy garden or nibble snacks from a trash can, maybe even leftovers from a family’s picnic. Coyotes live on the plains and in deserts, on farms and in woodlands; they even live in towns and cities.
In Hungry Coyote, lush, lifelike illustrations by natural history artist Laurie Caple accompany Cheryl Blackford’s poetic imagining of a year in the life of an urban coyote. Across the pages, Coyote sneaks, skulks, and scurries in his constant quest to feed himself and his growing family. While Coyote hunts nearby, people enjoy a city park. At the lake, in the marsh, among the trees, children jump, twirl, and play, oblivious to his secret life. But if they listen closely they might overhear Coyote’s wild nighttime conversations with his mate and pups. Is he planning his next hunt?

Cheryl Blackford is the author of three third-grade nonfiction books and the middle-grade novel Lizzie and the Stolen Baby. Laurie Caple has created artwork for more than twenty books as well as the periodicals American Girl and Cricket.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 16 Jul 2015 14:50:24 -0400)

"From winter hunts to picnic foraging, Coyote makes his deliberate way through the seasons in his urban habitat"--

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