Title: The Adventures of Old Man CoyoteThe-Adventures-of-Old-Man-Coyote
Author: Thornton W. Burgess
Pages: 119
Recommended Ages: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★★★

More adventures from the Green Forest!

The Story.

A strange noise has been heard floating across the Green Forest. It isn’t a sound that Peter Rabbit has ever heard before – it sounds like Bowser the Hound, Hooty the Owl, and Dippy the Loon all put together! What could possibly be making this terrible sound?

The little forest animals soon learn that a newcomer has moved into the Green Forest – Old Man Coyote! Sometimes he is friendly to the little folk – other times he chases them with a hungry gleam in his eye!

Can Peter Rabbit and the rest of the Green Meadow animals learn how to cope with their new neighbor?

Praises.

Mr. Thornton knows a good deal about character and relationships. His little animals are by no means one-dimensional; their interactions are reflective of how we humans treat each other. For example, when Reddy the Fox wants a service from Bobby Coon, he begins by flattering him before making his request. Bobby responds to the flattery, but denies the request.

Later, Reddy goes to Jimmy Skunk (whom he dislikes) and, in order to win a favor from him, pretends to be friendly. Jimmy Skunk is not fooled, but goes along with the plan, in order to tease Reddy.  Reddy, a patent coward, often boasts and brags, but repeatedly shirks in the face of danger. This causes the little forest animals much delight.

The most striking case, however, was that of Granny Fox.

No one knows better than she [Granny Fox] how to make trouble for other people by starting little untrue stories. You see, she learned long ago how fast a mean little tale will travel once it has been started ,and so when there is someone with whom she is afraid to fight honestly, she uses these little untrue tales instead of claws and teeth, and often they hurt a great deal worse than claws or teeth ever could. [pg. 55]

Because people are so willing to believe bad things about other people, Granny Fox very nearly kills a few of the little Forest animals due to her lies.

Another thing that I loved in The Adventures of Old Man Coyote are the numerous verses which Mr. Burgess penned.

A little tale which isn’t true
And eager ears to heed it,
Means trouble starts right there to brew
With tattle tales to feed it.” [pg. 54]

Isn’t that great?

A kindly word, a kindly dead,
Is like the planting of a seed;
It first sends forth a little root
And by and by bears splendid fruit. [pg. 103]

There are others equally good, by I’ll include this one lastly.

When you are tempted very much
Just turn your back and go away.
Temptation then can harm you not,
But only those who choose to stay.” [pg. 15]

Cautions.

Old Mother West Wind and her daughters, the Merry Little Breezes are mentioned three times.

It is said that certain news spread “as if by magic”.

Conclusion. A sweet, charming book, The Adventures of Old Man Coyote presents strong moral lessons in the context of an adventurous story.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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