The true star of this creation myth is not the eponymous Coyote but the first-time illustrator. In a stunning debut, Teckentrup melds primitivism with a bold graphic style for an arresting array of paper collages, first rendered as oils on newsprint. Geometric shapes, slightly modified, become vivid creatures whose burnished earth tones-highlighted with unexpected swaths of muted teals, reds and golds-add singular drama to Sage's variation on a familiar Native American folktale. Further, by making her characters more representational than realistic, the artist imbues the story with a subtle mysticism. Coyote polls the other animals about the characteristics with which he should endow Man. The responses are uniformly self-referential: Bear votes for ``a thick, woolly coat,'' Field Mouse advocates ``long, tweeky whiskers,'' etc. In the end Coyote makes Man as he sees fit, and all agree that now ``the world is perfect.'' Moving from a fanciful opening to a more serious, affecting conclusion, Sage's (The Little Band) straightforward text seldom rises above the serviceable. But while Coyote may make Man, Teckentrup makes magic. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
- Gisela Jernigan
Coyote has just put the finishing touches on creating the world and wonders aloud to the other animals what man should be like. The deer thinks that man should have antlers, while the owl believes he should see well in the dark. Naturally, all the other animals think man should be like them, so coyote finally decides to make man a combination of all the animals' best traits. Earthtone collages illustrate this picture book adaptation of a mostly Crow legend that was also influenced by other Native American myths.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3-Coyote is given the responsibility of finishing off the earth after it is created and designing the first human being. He consults the other animals, and each one makes a clay model of ``Man in his own image.'' Coyote creates a single creature that combines the best of all of the animals' features. They declare the new creation perfect, but Coyote is not so sure. Sage cites the legends of the Great Plains nations, specifically the Crow Nation, as the primary source for his tale and notes that he has also incorporated elements of other Native American legends that feature Coyote as a creator. His retelling is straightforward and respectful. The clear, clean language lends itself to reading aloud. The prophetic twist in the last sentence will not be lost on any but the youngest listeners. Teckentrup's textured collage illustrations ably extend the text with their simple style. She employs a rich palette of earth tones, and the collages fill each double-page spread. Her use of shape and perspective results in eye-catching pictures large enough to be appreciated by a group and detailed enough to engage the one-on-one listener or newly independent reader.-Donna L. Scanlon, Lancaster County Library, PA
In this retelling of a Crow Indian myth, Coyote takes on the task of creating the first human being. He solicits ideas from many of his fellow creatures; each suggests an image similar to itself. Finally, Coyote begins sculpting his own unique model, incorporating all the best recommendations from his friends. The others are impressed by Coyote's handiwork, feeling that the world must now be perfect--though Coyote isn't sure. The oils-on-newsprint collage artwork is well suited to the simple, straightforward text. Teckentrup's use of a roller on the newsprint creates some interesting textures that add to the illustrations' appeal. Several other good Coyote tales have appeared recently, among them Gerald McDermott's "Coyote: A Trickster Tale from the Southwest" (1994) and Janet Stevens' "Coyote Steals the Blanket: A Ute Tale" (1993). Or, pair this with Frieda Gates' "Owl Eyes" (1994) for another Native American creation myth.