A trickster named Coyote rules her world, until a funny-looking stranger named Columbus changes her plans. Unimpressed by the wealth of moose, turtles, and beavers in Coyote’s land, he’d rather figure out how to hunt human beings to sell back in Spain. Thomas King uses a bag of literary tricks to shatter the stereotypes surrounding Columbus’s voyages. In doing so, he invites children to laugh with him at the crazy antics of Coyote, who unwittingly allows Columbus to engineer the downfall of his human friends. William Kent Monkman's vibrant illustrations perfectly complement this amusing story with a message.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I grew up in Bensonhurst. BIG Italian neighborhood. Right on 18th Avenue - you can believe we knew it when it was Columbus Day! Parades up and down the block!And this is what we learned in school... let's see... Columbus was a Hero, and very Brave, and he Discovered America, and he Explored, and... oh yeah, and we learned that little ditty about sailing the ocean blue.This is what we didn't learn: Columbus wasn't just lost on the way to India, he drastically miscalculated the size of the earth - and all the sailors knew it. (The size and shape of the earth had been worked out back in the time of the Ancient Greeks, so this was nothing new.) Oh, yeah, and when he showed up in the Americas he promptly took several "Indians" back with him as slaves. Yippee. Of course, there are two sides to every story. Columbus didn't believe himself a villain, that's for sure. But if you teach kids a one-sided portrayal of history when they're five and six and seven and eight, it's going to be much harder to teach them that real life is more complicated than that. It looks like kid biographies nowadays at least mention the whole slavery thing... sorta... but they don't seem to focus on it. A quick perusal of the options will show titles calling Columbus a Hero, an Explorer, a Man of Faith, and an Adventurer. Not "Columbus. He was a dude who messed up" or "Columbus. Did some bad things too".Oh, and you see this book as well. This book is great. Fantastically colored illustrations, and a funny way of telling a story. It's full of pointed anachronisms, too, which do help lighten the mood. I mean, it's an uncomfortable subject. It's easier to talk about if you can joke a bit at the same time.The book is a bit wordy, and with the aforementioned anachronisms and all it may be better to read this to the later end of the 4 - 8 age range.
Hilarious, zany, anachronistic, chaotic, and all good - it is hard to find proper adjectives to describe King's version of Columbus's arrival. This is not the Columbus taught to school children, this Columbus is altogether more dangerous.