Cover image for Coyote School News
Coyote School News
Sandin, Joan.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt, [2003]

Physical Description:
45 pages : color illustrations ; 29 cm
In 1938-1939, fourth-grader Monchi Ramirez and the other students at Coyote School enjoy their new teacher, have a special Christmas celebration, participate in the Tucson Rodeo Parade, and produce their own school newspaper.
Reading Level:
730 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.5 1.0 73094.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4 4 Quiz: 36053 Guided reading level: Q.
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A blending of rich Mexican and American cultural traditions

"My name is Ramón Ernesto Ramírez, but everybody calls me Monchi. I live on a ranch that my great-grandfather built a long time ago when this land was still part of Mexico. That was before the United States bought it in 1854 and moved the line."

Every day, Monchi and his five brothers and sisters take a long, bumpy bus ride to Coyote School, where there are twelve students who each write for Coyote School News. Through their articles and drawings we learn all about their exciting 1938 school year-from the Christmas piñata, the new baseball team, and the Perfect Attendance Competition to La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, the biggest annual ranch celebration.

This eventful story, illustrated in full color, is based on an actual collection of newspapers written by students of Arizona ranch-country schools between 1932 and 1943.

Author Notes

Joan Sandin has written and illustrated many books for children, both in the United States and in Sweden, where she lived for several years. Among her books are the highly successful beginning readers for HarperCollins. The idea for Coyote School News came from Ms. Sandin's friendship with María Amado, a woman whose pioneer Mexican family lived on a ranch similar to the one depicted in this story. Ms. Sandin now resides in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2-4. Set in southern Arizona during 1938 and 1939, this episodic story offers a vivid portrayal of school and community life as observed by fourth-grader Monchi Ramirez. Monchi lives on the ranch his great-grandfather built in Mexico, on land that later became part of the U.S. Mexican culture is still strong in the area and Spanish words dot the narrative. Often their meaning can be gleaned from context, but an appended Spanish word list provides translations and pronunciations. The school year and student newspaper provide the book's structure; newsworthy events include Halloween and Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) celebrations, the Rodeo Parade in Tucson, and Monchi's first roundup. This brightly illustrated picture book will work well for middle-grade readers who don't demand chapter books; it can also be read aloud to somewhat younger children. Drawn with a keen sense of what will interest children, the pencil, pen, and watercolor artwork is richly colored and detailed. Monchi's narrative provides a pervasive sense of period and culture within an appealing story that will be a fine choice for reading aloud in the classroom. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Inspired in part by newsletters written by students at Arizona ranch country schools in the '30s and '40s, Sandin (The Long Way Westward) combines a first-person narration by a fourth-grader, Monchi Ram!rez (whose family lives on the ranch built by his great-grandfather) with issues of the "Coyote News," his school's monthly newsletter. The book opens in 1938, when the silver dollar offered by the teacher for perfect attendance exercises a strong hold on Monchi's imagination. Sandin finds some colorful moments, both in Monchi's life with his five siblings on the ranch and in the tiny schoolhouse that he shares with 11 classmates, the sympathetic teacher and the teacher's dog. Perhaps the best nuggets are found in the "newspaper," which looks authentic in its purple "mimeographed" typeface and with its "student" drawings (after they listen to FDR on the radio, a third-grader writes: "When he said `war' it sounded like `waw.' We were all laughing because we never heard anybody who talked like that"). While half-page watercolors and vignettes break up long columns of text, the art is uneven and the layout seems both institutional and a bit intimidating-it sets out more information than the audience may be able to comfortably absorb. Patient readers may be rewarded, however, with an enhanced historical perspective, a feel for Mexican-American culture and the satisfaction of seeing even minor characters grow. Ages 6-10. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 2-4-An entertaining bit of historical fiction set in 1938-1939. His country may be preparing for war, but fourth-grader Monchi Ram'rez wishes that President Roosevelt would turn his attention to fixing the bumpy roads leading from his family's southern Arizona ranch to the area's one-room schoolhouse. His schoolmates are white and brown, rich and poor, but united in their affection for their teacher, Miss Byers. Monchi narrates a year's worth of episodes at school and at home, telling of a vaquero roundup, a broken wrist, Nochebuena feasting, and the elusive Perfect Attendance award. Interspersed are full-page issues of the Coyote News, the student-produced newspaper. The text is long enough to be a beginning chapter book; however, Sandin's sensitive watercolor illustrations and the "mimeographed" newspaper pages necessitate the larger, picture-book format. The text is peppered with Spanish words and phrases, and a glossary with pronunciation guide is appended. Without didacticism, this book shows readers that Mexican traditions have been part of the American cultural landscape for generations, yet the book's appeal is broad and not limited to social studies units.-Eve Ortega, Cypress Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.