Old Bag of Bones: A Coyote Tale

Overview

Decrepit and hungry, Coyote feels as if he's nothing but an old bag of bones. He wants to be young and strong again. He knows that young Buffalo has special powers, since he provides food, clothing, and shelter for the people. He asks Young Buffalo to change him into a young buffalo bull like himself. Buffalo obliges, but also warns Coyote: 'Remember, even though most of you looks like a young buffalo on the outside, on the inside, you are still a powerless coyote.'
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Overview

Decrepit and hungry, Coyote feels as if he's nothing but an old bag of bones. He wants to be young and strong again. He knows that young Buffalo has special powers, since he provides food, clothing, and shelter for the people. He asks Young Buffalo to change him into a young buffalo bull like himself. Buffalo obliges, but also warns Coyote: 'Remember, even though most of you looks like a young buffalo on the outside, on the inside, you are still a powerless coyote.'
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The lessons in this tale of the legendary trickster Coyote are "delivered with droll understatement and wit," said PW. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Judith Gravitz
Coyote, the trickster character from Native American folklore is back to his old tricks again. Coyote is lazy; he likes to find quick and effortless solutions to his problems. Realizing that he is getting old and frail, Coyote asks Buffalo to give him some of his strength, youth, and power. Buffalo obliges somewhat and gives Coyote his youth and strength but keeps the power. Coyote is transformed into a buffote, a buffalo with the tale of a coyote. Naturally Coyote's youth goes to his head with comic and just results. Stevens uses a palette of desert colors-blues, browns and purples to bring this entertaining trickster tale to life.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Coyote, introduced in Stevens's Coyote Steals the Blanket (Holiday, 1993), is back, looking skinnier than ever. The gleam is gone from his eye. The fluff is gone from his tail. He is one scraggly dude. Only the stubbornly cocky ears hint at the spirit that resides within. Buzzard sees the end in sight. He's hovering close above, when Coyote spies Young Buffalo. Inspiration strikes. Coyote asks Buffalo for strength, youth, and power. Agreeing to share the first two qualities, Buffalo hurls himself off a butte with Coyote, and when they hit the bottom, there is one Buffalo and one Buffote. Forgetting instantly that he has not acquired power, Buffote bullies old Rat, Lizard, and Rabbit up to the butte, ignoring their protests that age has brought them experience, respect, and wisdom. When the dust clears at the bottom, nobody has changed except Buffote, who is old Coyote once more. Has he learned his lesson? Check the back cover. Stevens's strong, direct telling meshes well with the energy and wit of her drawings. The artist is surely a master at portraying the comic essence of animals. Coyote is everything sly and hopeful. Buffalo is so big he sometimes falls off the page. The useful source note says this retelling is loosely based on a Shoshoni tale, and it is brisk and brief enough to make it a lively story time choice. And when teachers come looking for materials on aging, don't let them get away without this one.-Sally Margolis, formerly at Deerfield Public Library, IL
Susan Dove Lempke
Stevens' retelling of a Shoshone tale shows that old age does not make Coyote any wiser. Declaring himself "nothing but a bag of bones," Coyote convinces Young Buffalo to share his youth and strength, but although Coyote changes into a buffalo, his coyote tail remains to remind him that he does not share Young Buffalo's special powers. Meeting up with Old Wrinkly Lizard, Old Rabbit, and Old Kangaroo Rat, Coyote refuses to listen when they remind him of the benefits of old age (wisdom, respect) and insists on attempting to change them into young animals as well, with the to-be-expected disastrous results. Stevens tells the story energetically, if not always smoothly, and her illustrations explode with personality and humor. Her Coyote is truly a bedraggled, decrepit fellow, but even at the end when he has lost his buffalo youth, he maintains his insouciant air as he spots Young Elk; the back jacket illustration, depicting an elk with a coyote tail, provides the story's conclusion.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823412150
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.82 (w) x 11.22 (h) x 0.32 (d)

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