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A Coyote Columbus Story

by Thomas King

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954290,386 (3.86)None
A trickster named Coyote rules her world, until a funny-looking stranger named Columbus changes her plans. Unimpressed by the wealth of moose, turtles, and beavers in Coyote's land, he'd rather figure out how to hunt human beings to sell back in Spain. Thomas King uses a bag of literary tricks to shatter the stereotypes surrounding Columbus's voyages. In doing so, he invites children to laugh with him at the crazy antics of Coyote, who unwittingly allows Columbus to engineer the downfall of her human friends. William Kent Monkman's vibrant illustrations perfectly complement this amusing story with a message.… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
This book has great pictures and is easy to follow along. This is the first time I heard this folktale which is a Native American folk tale. This story has many different mesages like you should always help each other out. I will defiantly read this book to my students because I feel that it is very important to share different folk tales. ( )
  gjchauvin504 | Nov 14, 2012 |
I grew up in Bensonhurst. BIG Italian neighborhood. Right on 18th Avenue - you can believe we knew it when it was Columbus Day! Parades up and down the block!

And this is what we learned in school... let's see... Columbus was a Hero, and very Brave, and he Discovered America, and he Explored, and... oh yeah, and we learned that little ditty about sailing the ocean blue.

This is what we didn't learn: Columbus wasn't just lost on the way to India, he drastically miscalculated the size of the earth - and all the sailors knew it. (The size and shape of the earth had been worked out back in the time of the Ancient Greeks, so this was nothing new.) Oh, yeah, and when he showed up in the Americas he promptly took several "Indians" back with him as slaves. Yippee.

Of course, there are two sides to every story. Columbus didn't believe himself a villain, that's for sure. But if you teach kids a one-sided portrayal of history when they're five and six and seven and eight, it's going to be much harder to teach them that real life is more complicated than that.

It looks like kid biographies nowadays at least mention the whole slavery thing... sorta... but they don't seem to focus on it. A quick perusal of the options will show titles calling Columbus a Hero, an Explorer, a Man of Faith, and an Adventurer. Not "Columbus. He was a dude who messed up" or "Columbus. Did some bad things too".

Oh, and you see this book as well.

This book is great. Fantastically colored illustrations, and a funny way of telling a story. It's full of pointed anachronisms, too, which do help lighten the mood. I mean, it's an uncomfortable subject. It's easier to talk about if you can joke a bit at the same time.

The book is a bit wordy, and with the aforementioned anachronisms and all it may be better to read this to the later end of the 4 - 8 age range. ( )
  conuly | Nov 6, 2009 |
Hilarious, zany, anachronistic, chaotic, and all good - it is hard to find proper adjectives to describe King's version of Columbus's arrival. This is not the Columbus taught to school children, this Columbus is altogether more dangerous. ( )
  francescadefreitas | Oct 22, 2008 |
Fab-freakin'-tastic-awesome.

     But you know, whenever Coyote and the human beings played ball, Coyote always won. She always won because she made up the rules. That sneaky one made up the rules, and she always won because she could do that.
     That's not fair, says the humans beings. Friends don't do that.
     That's the rules, says Coyote. Let's play some more. Maybe you will win next time. But they don't.
     You keep changing the rules, says those human beings.
     No, no, no, no, says Coyote. You are mistaken. And then she changes the rules again.
     So, after a while, those human beings find better things to do.
     Some of them go shopping.
     Some of them go sky diving.
     Some of them go to see big-time wrestling.
     Some of them go on a seven-day Caribbean cruise.
     Those human beings got better things to do than play ball with Coyote and those changing rules.
     So, Coyote doesn't have anyone to play with again.
     So, she has to play by herself.
     So, she gets bored.
     When Coyote gets bored, anything can happen. Stick around. Big trouble is going to come along, I can tell you that.

Who does Coyote dream up to play ball with her? Who does she dream when she's feeling bored and careless and thinking about all them changing rules? She dreams up "some people in funny-looking clothes carrying flags and boxes of junk." People who are obsessed with finding something to sell. People with very bad manners.

The illustrations are every bit as fabulous and audacious as the text. Columbus is a scary-crazy circus clown. One of his sidekicks is an Elvis in conquistador drag, complete with red pumps. The Europeans' skin-tones are green and blue and purple; they have bulbous, red, rhinophymic noses. (Who was it with the alcohol problem, exactly?)

I'm telling you: All. Kinds. Of awesome.
  sanguinity | Mar 31, 2008 |
Showing 4 of 4
I'd just like to point out that I'm very very fond of "A Coyote Columbus Story" by Thomas King. If you haven't seen this picture book, you might do well to give it a glance.
 

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A trickster named Coyote rules her world, until a funny-looking stranger named Columbus changes her plans. Unimpressed by the wealth of moose, turtles, and beavers in Coyote's land, he'd rather figure out how to hunt human beings to sell back in Spain. Thomas King uses a bag of literary tricks to shatter the stereotypes surrounding Columbus's voyages. In doing so, he invites children to laugh with him at the crazy antics of Coyote, who unwittingly allows Columbus to engineer the downfall of her human friends. William Kent Monkman's vibrant illustrations perfectly complement this amusing story with a message.

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