Coyote Makes Man

James Sage, Author, Jim Sage, Author, Bitta Teckentrup, Illustrator
James Sage, Author, Jim Sage, Author, Bitta Teckentrup, Illustrator Simon & Schuster $15 (1p) ISBN 978-0-689-80011-5
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
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The true star of this creation myth is not the eponymous Coyote but the first-time illustrator. In a stunning debut, Teckentrup melds primitivism with a bold graphic style for an arresting array of paper collages, first rendered as oils on newsprint. Geometric shapes, slightly modified, become vivid creatures whose burnished earth tones-highlighted with unexpected swaths of muted teals, reds and golds-add singular drama to Sage's variation on a familiar Native American folktale. Further, by making her characters more representational than realistic, the artist imbues the story with a subtle mysticism. Coyote polls the other animals about the characteristics with which he should endow Man. The responses are uniformly self-referential: Bear votes for ``a thick, woolly coat,'' Field Mouse advocates ``long, tweeky whiskers,'' etc. In the end Coyote makes Man as he sees fit, and all agree that now ``the world is perfect.'' Moving from a fanciful opening to a more serious, affecting conclusion, Sage's (The Little Band) straightforward text seldom rises above the serviceable. But while Coyote may make Man, Teckentrup makes magic. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
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