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Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Coyote Road, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Penguin (Canada) Group. 2007. $25.00 ages 10 and up

"To be on "the coyote road" in Native American legends means to be headed to a wild, unpredictable, and transformative follow the path of Trickster, which is neither a safe nor a comfortable place to be. Walk warily. He may rob you of the things you move most, or gift you with the things that you most need. Or both. But one thing's certain. He's going to shake you up. And probably have a good laugh about it, too."

I swore I would not read this book until I had finished the two already started. But, I looked at it every day as it sat there on the shelf and finally gave myself permission with the caveat that 'I would only read a couple of the stories'. Now I am done and, when I have finished telling you about it, I will return to the others.

This is a book that should find a place of prominence on a teacher's desk, or an adolescent's night table, to be picked up and read when the mood strikes. There are many wonderful stories here, and you would do well to share in them. They are often short, with much action and engaging for reluctant readers, too. The tricksters are impressive and hold interest as the story moves forward, always keeping them at the forefront. Trickster tales have been favorites of mine for a long time, most shared in picture book form. They are entertaining, while frightening. They show the good and bad that is in the world. They often make us stop to think about our own strengths and imperfections.

They come from many cultures and every era in our history. Each of these writers has chosen to tell a personal version of a trickster tale, some based on previous tellings and others making departures from the traditional folklore. In most the trickster is tested and proves powerful, but fallible. That is as it should be.

It's difficult for me to choose the best, or even 'my favorite' from this excellent anthology. If I start to describe them, I will not know where to stop. But, each story is worthy of its inclusion for a variety of reasons...the tone and the content, the humor and the terror, the elegance of the writing and the the range of the telling. These authors know how to create an anthology that will delight, and give pause. It is worthy of our attention!

An editor's note adds to our store of knowledge about the tricksters of the world. We also catch a glimpse of each of the featured authors.

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