Fire Race: A Karuk Coyote Tale of How Fire Came to the People

Fire Race: A Karuk Coyote Tale of How Fire Came to the People

by Jonathan London, Sylvia Long, Lanny Pinola

Inspired by a legend of the Karuk people, the story of how Coyote captures fire and how Eagle, Cougar, Fox, Bear and others work together to help is a dramatic tale of bravery and cooperation.


Inspired by a legend of the Karuk people, the story of how Coyote captures fire and how Eagle, Cougar, Fox, Bear and others work together to help is a dramatic tale of bravery and cooperation.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
In this gracefully narrated, arrestingly illustrated myth originating from the Karuk people of Northwest California, the animals have no fire to keep them warm. Wise old Coyote devises a plan to steal the fire that the miserly Yellow Jacket sisters guard in their mountaintop home. Using his renowned skill as trickster, Coyote manages to purloin a burning piece of oak. Though the evil sisters follow in pursuit, Coyote and the other animals execute a flawless relay, transporting the ember back to their home ground, where a willow tree swallows it. Clever Coyote once again solves the dilemma, showing how to get fire from the willow by rubbing two of its branches together. London's tale unravels seamlessly, subtly revealing the diverse personalities of the animals and the merits of working together. As in other books she has illustrated Long creates impressively realistic animal characters with an inventive measure of whimsy: Mountain Lion and Bear sport traditional Karuk necklaces and Coyote wears a woven cap and bearskin. This spirited Native American legend is in good hands. Ages 4-8.

AMERICAN BOOKSELLER, Pick of the Lists, March 1993
It will take a lot of searching to find a more beautifully illustrated or carefully researched adaptation than this retelling of the Karuk tale of how fire came to the people. The tale itself suspensefully unfolds, as the animals steal the fire and claim it for themselves, but the detail of its artwork enliven it from cover to cover.

Long ago, the animal people had no fire. They were cold and miserable and ate their food uncooked. Then that wise old trickster, Coyote, got an idea. If they al1 worked together, they could steal fire from the Yellow Jacket sisters who guarded it jealously in their home on the snowy mountain at the end of the world. So begins this Native American story of the origin of firemaking, a tale that features cooperation (even the lowly Measuring Worm plays a pivotal role) and a hair-raising chase down the mountainside. Told in the fluid style of the oral tradition of Northern California's Karuk people it has sure fire appeal for even the wiggliest story hour listeners. Older readers, too, wil1 find much to interest them, as the concise prose delivers a great deal of cultural wisdom, tradition, and humor. The double-spread water-color illustrations burst with action, and are remarkably accurate to the natural world of California's upper Klamath River, home of the Karuk. Many details of traditional life are incorporated in the paintings, including Native plank houses, basketry, cooking methods, and jewelry. A fascinating cross-cultural comparison of trickster stories can be made with Gerald McDermot's Raven. Culturally acuarate and artistcally excellent, Fire Race will enrich collections everywhere.

KIRKUS REVIEWS, April 1, 1993
The Yellow Jackets are known to keep fire on top of their snowy mountain; boldly, Coyote offers to "make them pretty" if they close their eyes. With a coal, he marks them in black, then seizes a burning brand from them and dashes away. When the pursuing Yellow Jackets catch up, Coyote passes the fire to Eagle, who gives it to Mountain Lion, and so on until Frog, after hiding it in his mouth, spits it into a willow. It's not lost: Coyote shows the animals how to make fire by rubbing willow sticks together. Written with the help of Lanny Pinola, a Pomo/Miwok storyteller, London's relaxed version of this tale from northwest California has a pleasantly conversational style. Long's lively illustrations depict the animals and their habitat in intriguing detail; the text, lightly bordered with Native American motifs, is nicely integrated into the design. An attractive addition. Afterword by Julian Lang, a member of th

Product Details

Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.75(w) x 9.75(h) x 0.25(d)
710L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 Months to 12 Years

Meet the Author

Jonathan London is the author of more than fifty books for children. He lives in Northern California with his family. Read more about the inspiration behind Jonathan's work.

Lanny Pinola is a Pomo/Miwok storyteller, who works as a park ranger in Northern California. In 1991, he was awarded the Secretary of the Interior Stewardship for his success in promoting ties between the National Park Service and the Native American commu

Sylvia Long is the illustrator of several books for children including the best sellers Ten Little Rabbits and Alejandro's Gift. Ms. Long's detailed paintings are inspired by her love of animals and the outdoors. She lives in Arizona. Read more about Sylvi

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