Coyote’s Soundbite: A Poem for Our Planet by John Agard, illustrations by Piet Grobler

Coyote’s Soundbite: A Poem for Our Planet by John Agard, illustrations by Piet Grobler. Lantana Publishing, 9781911373735, 2021

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Picture Book

 What did you like about the book? This book is a little unusual, but I really liked the message it was presenting. The story begins with a great buzz among the rainforest creatures. Apparently there is a conference of the Earth goddesses (from all parts of the world) and they are gathering to discuss the problems of the environment. For some reason, this is a females-only event and Coyote (a male) is very disappointed he cannot attend. His solution–he dresses in his wife’s clothing and attends the conference. As the conference progresses, the various Earth goddesses explain what is happening to the environment. For example, the Earth goddess Ninam from the arctic region explains how her creatures are struggling because the ice is melting. At the end of the conference, the Earth goddesses ask the audience what should be done, and only Coyote replies. He says they should use a soundbite that humans will remember and he suggests “Earth-lovers of the world unite! Mother Nature is always right!” Everyone agrees that this is a great idea. When Coyote returns home with his exciting news, he finds his wife dressed in HIS clothes. Apparently she attended a similar conference and it was an all-male event and she was the one who came up with the same soundbite. They both had a good laugh that great minds think alike.

I thought the illustrations provided by Piet Grobler were wonderful and perfect for this book. The animals and their habitat were in bright pinks, blues, yellows, and greens–perfect for the rainforest. Children will enjoy a blue elephant, yellow kangaroo, and rainbow-colored birds and snakes.

Anything you did not like about the book. I thought it was a little odd that the conference was all female, no males allowed. I am not sure what was the point of that. And then I was even more confused when Coyote’s wife went to an all-male conference. I was a little lost on why they had to disguise themselves to attend a conference.

To whom would you recommend this book? This book is perfect for children between the ages of four and eight years old, especially if they are interested in environmental issues.

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries, preschools, anyone who works with children between the ages of four and eight years old.

Where would you shelve it? Picture Books

 Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Kristin Guay, former youth services librarian.

Date of review: March 29, 2021

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