Tag Archive: migration


pancho rabbit and the coyote

Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh

Released May 7, 2013.

Papa Rabbit had traveled north to find work when the rains didn’t come one year.  Finally, after two years, he was returning home to his family.  A party was planned with food and music, but Papa Rabbit didn’t come back.  When the other rabbits went to sleep, Pancho Rabbit set out to find his father.  He took with him his father’s favorite meal of mole, rice and beans, tortillas, and a jug of aguamiel.  As he traveled, Pancho met a coyote, who offered to help him reach his father.  The coyote demanded payment of the mole up front, then taking Pancho to the train tracks where they jumped a train.  As the journey continued, the coyote demanded food after each part of the journey until Pancho was out of food.  Then Pancho himself was the only food for the coyote to demand.  This allegorical tale of migrant workers coming to the United States is a powerful look at the dangers they face and the love that drives them.

Tonatiuh writes with a strength here, each word seemingly chosen for its impact and power.  The importance of this sort of story for young children cannot be ignored.  This book carefully dresses the horrors of the story in folktales, but the purpose is still clear.  Those folktale devices are particularly effective in a story such as this, allowing the reader to see the dangers but not be overwhelmed by them.  The use of the different pieces of food as payment is particularly clever as is the character of the coyote being that animal.

The illustrations convey the folktale structure as well.  Done in a flattened style, they have strong lines and shapes.  Tonatiuh makes clever use of textures like jean material, tires, fur and textured paper.  This added touch ensures that readers recognize the modern nature of the tale.

This book belongs in every library since it deals with a current issue that affects many in our communities directly.  Teachers will find this book especially useful when discussion immigration as well.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Abrams.

north

North: The Amazing Story of Arctic Migration by Nick Dowson, illustrated by Patrick Benson

This poetic look at the amazing Arctic starts with the deep winter and the few animals who survive there year round.  Then spring comes to the Arctic and the sun comes back along with some warmth.  Plants start to appear from under the snow.  Soon more animals will arrive.  The first to head out on their journey are the gray whales, that swim from Mexico to the Arctic Circle.  Birds head north too in flocks.  Herds of pregnant caribou journey north, followed closely by the gray wolves looking for weakness.  Walrus, narwhal, schools of fish, all of this life crowds the Arctic summer until the weather turns cold and brutal again, and once more they head back around the world.

Dowson’s words are poetry in this book.  Not only written in verse form, they also speak to the soul of the Arctic, the beauty of the place and the glory of the creatures who live there.  At the same time, the words are scientific and filled with information about the place and the animals.  It is an elegant combination of poem and fact.

Benson’s art is striking.  He created paintings that are both natural and accurate but also have a sense of artistry.  Much of the art is about the landscape, the place itself and the grand amount of space there.  The illustrations of bitter winter are cold and bleak with dim, gray light.  Then the reader turns the page and it is spring with its lemony light and sprigs of green.  The change is striking to the reader and beautifully captured.  There are moments like this throughout the book.

A striking mix of poetry, art and science, this book will speak to a range of different children looking to understand their world a little better.  Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

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