cover image The Prince and the Coyote

The Prince and the Coyote

David Bowles, illus. by Amanda Mijangos. Levine Querido, $19.99 (440p) ISBN 978-1-64614-177-7

Bowles (Secret of the Moon Conch) fictionalizes the life of poet Nezahualcoyotl (1402–1472)—an Indigenous figure whose actions brought forth the rise of the Aztec Triple Alliance before Spanish colonization—in this sophisticated work. With his father preoccupied with military strategy in pre-Columbian Mexico, 15-year-old Prince Acolmiztli—the half Acolhuan, half Mexica heir to the throne of the city-state Tetzcoco—must begin taking on more the responsibilities as he prepares for his future role as king of the Acolhua people. When tragedy strikes and the war overcomes his kingdom, Mexica soldiers kill everyone he holds dear, and he barely escapes into the wilderness. Resolving to enact revenge upon the Mexica who invaded his kingdom, Acolmiztli assumes the name Nezahualcoyotl and endeavors to reclaim the throne. Along the way, he’s pursued by a relentless god and falls in love with a commoner. Striking charcoal-like drawings by Mijangos (The Sea-Ringed World) feature throughout, depicting Nezahualcoyotl’s travels alongside significant landmarks and symbols. The inclusion of translations of the figure’s actual poetry interwoven with Bowles’s immersive prose makes this a mature novel that never shies away from the ferocious realities of war and death. Includes extensive back matter. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)