Cover image for Skywater
Popham, Melinda Worth.
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St. Paul, Minn. : Graywolf, 1990.
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Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

A band of coyotes in the southwestern Sonora desert are an important part of the life of the Ryders, a crusty old couple who have lived simply in the desert for more than 40 years. In this captivating exploration of coyote life by an author obviously well-researched in their ways, the characters--human and animal--interact in a credible, unsentimental narrative that portrays the delicate peril of our ecological systems. In an appropriately spare, ascetic style, we encounter the Ryders, self-made isolates nearing the close of their long escape from civilization in the desert. The coyotes, who share the Ryders' drinking water until it becomes tainted by a nearby copper mine, are forced to embark upon a search for a fresh supply. The animals' arduous westward journey down the Colorado River to the Gulf suggests a coyote world view that is subtly sustained by their mysterious ways. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Popham's second novel examines that much misunderstood breed, the coyote, and its desolate yet enchanting habitat. After the water sources in their home terrain have become contaminated, a motley crew of coyotes led by ``Brand X'' journey to find Skywater (the ocean), only to discover that it is undrinkable. The main human characters are an elderly couple distraught because they must now turn away the coyotes from their contaminated water tank. Some of the prose is quite beautiful, as hot and arid as the terrain being described; yet the novel is hampered by its central ``voice,'' or point of view--that of the coyotes themselves. This highly anthropomorphized perspective is less than convincing; the thoughts and reasoning of the coyotes often seem more like those of concerned environmentalists than wild desert creatures. The author's message is well taken, so it is unfortunate that she chose such an awkward and unworkable ``vehicle'' to carry it forth.-- Jessica Grim, Univ. of California Lib., Berkeley (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-- In this wonderfully written fable, the distasteful coyote is a creature of great strength and intelligence. When the well on the property of old Hallie and Albert Ryder becomes poisoned from mine tailings, the desert animals lose their watering place. As a result of this catastrophe, the coyote--whom Hallie calls Brand X--decides to seek Skywater, the mythical watering place of the moon-callers. This poetic story, told from the viewpoint of the animals, details the trek across the Sonoran Desert by the maverick band of coyotes. Readers are led on a quest ``to heed an ancient yearning for the time when water had been bountiful and thirst unknown . . . '' This seemingly harsh adventure is told in a moving, quiet manner, and YAs are sure to find it fascinating food for thought. --Donna R. Deibel, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.