cover image Doctor Coyote: A Native American Aesop's Fables

Doctor Coyote: A Native American Aesop's Fables

John Bierhorst. MacMillan Publishing Company, $15.95 (46pp) ISBN 978-0-02-709780-1

Subtitled A Native American Aesop's Fables, this is a unique collection of 20 fables, translated and retold by Bierhorst, an acknowledged expert. According to him, these tales were adapted by Aztec Indian storytellers in the 1500s, from a Spanish collection of Aesop. The Aztec versions include animal tricksters from Native American traditions (Coyote and Puma). Each fable is complete on one page with a picture on the facing page. The language is rather formal, incorporating Native American figures of speech. Although the tales may be ancient, Watson's (Father Fox's Pennyrhymesstet lighthearted watercolors depict animals dressed as Southwest Indians, in a contemporary New Mexican setting. Sometimes the effect can be jarring: pickup trucks, Hawaiian-style shirts, cigarettes, lawn chairs. But all in all, an interesting and valuable effort. Ages 7-10. (March)