Coyote Christmas: A Lakota Story


Christmas with a Lakota trick!

A traditional Native American character gets a modern update in this charming Christmas tale

On Christmas Eve, Coyote wants to find some people to trick out of a hot meal. Sneaky Coyote is known in the Native American tradition as the Trickster. He knows that there's one character people can't refuse on Christmas Eve: Santa Claus! Using straw ...
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Christmas with a Lakota trick!

A traditional Native American character gets a modern update in this charming Christmas tale

On Christmas Eve, Coyote wants to find some people to trick out of a hot meal. Sneaky Coyote is known in the Native American tradition as the Trickster. He knows that there's one character people can't refuse on Christmas Eve: Santa Claus! Using straw for a jolly belly and wool for his Santa's beard, the Trickster fools a family into welcoming him to their Christmas meal. But just when he thinks he's gotten away with his ruse, taking their food and leaving the family with nothing, he's foiled by a strange occurrence. Could it be a Christmas miracle?

Coyote's antics, beautifully told and illustrated by S. D. Nelson, will delight readers, and his eventual comeuppance just in time for Christmas makes this a perfect holiday tale.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Magic abounds on the trail of Coyote, a trickster set on scoring some tasty Christmas grub in this confusing original folktale inspired by Lakota Sioux legend and set on an Indian reservation. Coyote hatches his grandest ruse ever: he disguises himself as Santa and lands an invitation to a kindly clan's Christmas Eve dinner. But the joke's on Coyote when his scheme is upstaged by some meddling by Sister Raven (and, perhaps, by the spirit of Christmas itself). Readers will be just as surprised as Coyote: What exactly is going on when the family opens their gifts from a Santa not even Coyote knows and they find delightful objects for everyone-except an empty box for wheelchair-bound young Davy? (He has regained the use of his legs.) The tale ends on an oddly sour note, not much relieved by the zesty North Dakota snowscapes throughout. Ages 5-9. (Dec.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Coyote the Trickster is cold and hungry on Christmas Eve. Remembering that Santa Claus is always welcome, he costumes himself as Santa and is welcomed into a home where a family is preparing for the holiday. At dinnertime, young Davy comes to the table in a wheelchair as the grandmother, grandfather, and young Isabel all help Coyote to eat his fill. Since he has brought only a sack of straw for "presents," Coyote is shocked when it spills open to reveal wonderful gifts for the grandparents and Isabel. Since David's box is empty, Coyote flees, feeling guilty, only to see that David's gift is the ability to walk. All the animals are pleased at the happy ending, while Coyote gets his "comeuppance." The tale is filled with the magic of the holiday, the talking animals, and the humor of the trickster tricked. Nelson creates a Coyote with character galore, changing as the story progresses. Textured acrylic paints produce double-page scenes filled with details and action. We can feel the cold of the snow and the warmth of the household. Nelson adds a note about the background of the story and the character of Coyote.
School Library Journal

Gr 1-3-The infamous trickster decides to con some people out of a hot meal on Christmas Eve. Posing as Santa, Coyote is invited in at a ranch house and royally entertained. While the charade unfolds, some unexpected magic takes place and he ends up delivering gifts all around. Sister Raven watches and has the last laugh. An author's note offers insight on Coyote's background and abilities. The splendid acrylic artwork captures the action, the humor, and the spirit of the tale. A nice addition for those collecting a variety of trickster tales.-Diane Olivo-Posner, Long Beach Public Library, CA

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Nelson, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, uses the traditional Coyote trickster character as the focus of his contemporary holiday story, set on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the Dakotas. Coyote uses his magical tricks to create a Santa costume, complete with a gift sack full of straw, so that he can get into a family's house for Christmas Eve dinner. His comical act succeeds in fooling the entire family, which consists of two grandparents, their granddaughter, Isabel, and their grandson, Davy, who uses a wheelchair. Coyote himself is tricked when the straw in his gift sack is mysteriously transformed into gift-wrapped presents for each member of the family, including an empty box for Davy with an invisible gift that restores his ability to walk. Though the plot's resolution is rather melodramatic, Nelson pulls it off with his confident style as a storyteller. His polished illustrations bring the comical Coyote to life, maintaining his personality even when Coyote is eating spaghetti and meatballs or dancing on top of a fence. An informative, well-written author's note details the history of the Coyote character in Native-American legends. (Picture book. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810993679
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/1/2007
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 410,492
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.37 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

S. D. Nelson is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in the Dakotas. He is the author of two previous children's books, Gift Horse and Star People. School Library Journal called Gift Horse "fluid in both narrative and illustrations," and Kirkus called Star People "an exemplary offering." He lives in Flagstaff, Arizona. Check out his work at
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