cover image Coyote Makes Man

Coyote Makes Man

James Sage, Jim Sage. Simon & Schuster, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80011-5

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.)