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Coyote School News
     

Coyote School News

by Joan Sandin
 

A blending of rich Mexican and American cultural traditions

"My name is Ramón Ernesto Ramírez, but everybody calls me Monchi. I live on a ranch that my great-grandfather built a long time ago when this land was still part of Mexico. That was before the United States bought it in 1854 and moved the line."

Every day, Monchi and his

Overview

A blending of rich Mexican and American cultural traditions

"My name is Ramón Ernesto Ramírez, but everybody calls me Monchi. I live on a ranch that my great-grandfather built a long time ago when this land was still part of Mexico. That was before the United States bought it in 1854 and moved the line."

Every day, Monchi and his five brothers and sisters take a long, bumpy bus ride to Coyote School, where there are twelve students who each write for Coyote School News. Through their articles and drawings we learn all about their exciting 1938 school year-from the Christmas piñata, the new baseball team, and the Perfect Attendance Competition to La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, the biggest annual ranch celebration.

This eventful story, illustrated in full color, is based on an actual collection of newspapers written by students of Arizona ranch-country schools between 1932 and 1943.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[A]n appealing story that will be a fine choice for reading aloud in the classroom." --Booklist

"Sandin's love and knowledge of this land and its history are evident in both text and illustration." --Kirkus Reviews

"Without didacticism, this book shows readers that Mexican traditions have been part of the American cultural landscape for generations, yet the book's appeal is broad and not limited to social studies units." School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly
Inspired in part by newsletters written by students at Arizona ranch country schools in the '30s and '40s, Sandin (The Long Way Westward) combines a first-person narration by a fourth-grader, Monchi Ram rez (whose family lives on the ranch built by his great-grandfather) with issues of the "Coyote News," his school's monthly newsletter. The book opens in 1938, when the silver dollar offered by the teacher for perfect attendance exercises a strong hold on Monchi's imagination. Sandin finds some colorful moments, both in Monchi's life with his five siblings on the ranch and in the tiny schoolhouse that he shares with 11 classmates, the sympathetic teacher and the teacher's dog. Perhaps the best nuggets are found in the "newspaper," which looks authentic in its purple "mimeographed" typeface and with its "student" drawings (after they listen to FDR on the radio, a third-grader writes: "When he said `war' it sounded like `waw.' We were all laughing because we never heard anybody who talked like that"). While half-page watercolors and vignettes break up long columns of text, the art is uneven and the layout seems both institutional and a bit intimidating-it sets out more information than the audience may be able to comfortably absorb. Patient readers may be rewarded, however, with an enhanced historical perspective, a feel for Mexican-American culture and the satisfaction of seeing even minor characters grow. Ages 6-10. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Twelve students of varying ages and their teacher are portrayed on the opening end papers with a date of September 1938. The closing end papers show the same group of people with the date of May 1939. Monchi, one of the students, relates his experiences within. He lives in Rancho San Isidro in southern Arizona and attends Coyote School with his brothers, sisters, cousins, and neighbors. They all like Miss Byers and her ideas for fun learning activities, especially her suggestion that they publish a newspaper. Articles and pictures produced by the students are featured on a single mimeographed sheet for each month. Most of Monchi's writings are about the promise of a silver dollar as a prize for perfect attendance. Other contributions feature school news and personal observations of the students. Celebrations and traditional customs bring holidays, such as Halloween and Christmas, to life. Participating in the parade for La Fiesta de los Vaqueros in Tucson and helping with his first roundup are highlights of Monchi's year. Author Sandin based the story on interviews with people who attended such a school and researched school newsletters of the era. Colorful illustrations and the inclusion of the newspapers contribute to the authenticity of the story. Spanish words and terms are written in Italics and defined in a glossary in the back. The introduction includes a Web site with examples of actual student newspapers. Although this is a fictionalized story, it has good potential for understanding this time and place in history. 2003, Henry Holt, Ages 7 to 11.
— Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-An entertaining bit of historical fiction set in 1938-1939. His country may be preparing for war, but fourth-grader Monchi Ram'rez wishes that President Roosevelt would turn his attention to fixing the bumpy roads leading from his family's southern Arizona ranch to the area's one-room schoolhouse. His schoolmates are white and brown, rich and poor, but united in their affection for their teacher, Miss Byers. Monchi narrates a year's worth of episodes at school and at home, telling of a vaquero roundup, a broken wrist, Nochebuena feasting, and the elusive Perfect Attendance award. Interspersed are full-page issues of the Coyote News, the student-produced newspaper. The text is long enough to be a beginning chapter book; however, Sandin's sensitive watercolor illustrations and the "mimeographed" newspaper pages necessitate the larger, picture-book format. The text is peppered with Spanish words and phrases, and a glossary with pronunciation guide is appended. Without didacticism, this book shows readers that Mexican traditions have been part of the American cultural landscape for generations, yet the book's appeal is broad and not limited to social studies units.-Eve Ortega, Cypress Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
There's a delightful authenticity to this fictional account of the events of 1938 in a one-room school in the ranch country of southern Arizona. As explained in the author's note, the story is based on an actual collection of newspapers from a similar school, and upon the reminiscences of the author's good friend, Maria Amado. Sixteen brief chapters are accompanied by Sandin's lovely watercolors and her yellowed "reproductions" of the purple-inked copies of the student-produced "Coyote News." Bad roads, rattlesnakes, chile-picking, English, baseball, movies in Tucson, a Halloween party, a round-up, the Fiesta de los Vaqueros, and a competition for perfect attendance will keep readers turning the pages as they become engrossed in the lives of the 12 children and one teacher of Coyote School. Sandin's love and knowledge of this land and its history are evident in both text and illustrations. "¡Muy Hermosa!" (glossary of Spanish words with pronunciations, maps, author's note) (Picture book. 6-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805065589
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
07/02/2003
Pages:
48
Product dimensions:
9.37(w) x 11.25(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 - 10 Years

Meet the Author

Joan Sandin has written and illustrated many books for children, both in the United States and in Sweden, where she lived for several years. Among her books are the highly successful beginning readers for HarperCollins. The idea for Coyote School News came from Ms. Sandin's friendship with María Amado, a woman whose pioneer Mexican family lived on a ranch similar to the one depicted in this story. Ms. Sandin now resides in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband.

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