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El Coyotito Y La Viejita (Baby Coyote And The Old Woman)
by Carmen Tafolla

El Coyotito Y La Viejita (Baby Coyote And The Old Woman

Reviewed by Amy McNally, with her daughter Grace Chadwick, age 4

The Trickster Teaches Recycling

Described on the inside cover as "a bilingual celebration of friendship and ecological wisdom," Baby Coyote and the Old Woman uses the trickster character of the coyote to illustrate the ways in which ecological awareness may be taught through intergenerational communication.

In the story, Baby Coyote becomes fascinated by an old woman who leaves scraps for him, but cannot understand why the woman leaves piles of waste (some of it poisonous) outside her house. Baby Coyote ultimately decides that he must teach the old woman to recycle her waste, leaving "gifts" of garbage for the woman to use for practical purposes. For instance, he leaves her a piece of paper, which she uses to start her stove, and a tin can, which she uses to store her seeds.

After a couple of days, he leaves her a whole pile of cans and papers, prompting her to guess Baby Coyote's true intention. She promptly sorts her waste and brings it to a recycling center, where she learns about the positive effects of recycling. The book closes with the Coyote and the old woman enjoying the beautiful (and now pristine) desert landscape.

Written in both Spanish and English, Baby Coyote and the Old Woman gives parents and educators an opportunity to teach children about language translation, multicultural expression, and Spanish/English pronunciation. Tafolla's simple yet descriptive language coupled with Matt Novak's vibrantly colored illustration makes this book ideal for young readers. And, while the didactic tone of the story was a bit overbearing for me, my four-year-old daughter Grace found it thoroughly enjoyable.