Southwest Children's Literature

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Coyote School News

Book Review:

Coyote School News by Joan Sandin is a book about a group of children, who live, work and go to school in southern Arizona during the late 1930's. All of the children live on ranches. Monchi, the main character who lives on Rancho San Isidro, is the narrator of the story. The ranch he lives on was started by his great-grandfather and was once a part of Mexico. After the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, the ranch became a part of the United States.

Monchi tells about the many events and activities he, his brothers, sisters and fellow classmates are involved in during the school year. He and his friends are able to document all their adventures in their school newspaper, "Coyote School News". From the bumpy bus rides to and from school each day, to the thrill of the cattle drive and from the feats of the proud vaqueros to the fun of the Fiesta de los muertos, Monchi and friends capture their experiences in their articles and illustrations.

This book is an excellent source for multicultural as well as historical perspectives on school and ranch life in the desert southwest during the early twentieth century. The stories are told and written by children so students will be immediately captivated by them. Both Mexican-American and Anglo-American cultures are highlighted and intertwined through the stories, characters, the use of mixed language (English/Spanish) and the illustrations. Ms. Sandin's watercolor illustrations, which are very colorful, complement and bring vitality to the text. This is a wonderful book and can be used by anyone who wants to bring history and multiculturalism into the classroom through the eyes of children.

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