So begins Monchi's story of the 1938-39 school year at Coyote School in Pima County, Arizona. Every day, Monchi and his friends catch a bus and take a long, bumpy ride to school. But the journey is worth it, because this is a special school year. Their new teacher, Miss Byers, has lots of fun new ideas, like baseball at recess. Not only that, she encourages her students to create their own newspaper, the Coyote School News. In the paper, Monchi and his friends record stories, news items and noteworthy events, such as their Halloween party or the time when their bus driver, Seâ€“or Grandote, ran over a rattlesnake. As the year progresses, the reader gets to know Miss Byers, her students and their way of life through Monchi's story, as well as through monthly editions of the paper.
This unusual and delightful picture book is based on the true story of an Arizona teacher, Eulalia Bourne, who created a collection of mimeographed newspapers with her students in Arizona county schools from 1932 through 1943. Author Sandin's story is based on these newspapers, as well as the memories of a high school friend who attended a school very much like the one depicted in the book.
Longer than the usual picture book, Coyote School News includes 17 short chapters, as well as the students' newspapers for each month, from September until May. The book's length means that readers get the chance to follow Monchi's adventures as he helps with roundup at the ranch, picks chiles and celebrates Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) with tamales and a piâ€“ata. Simple and straightforward, Coyote School News is a heartwarming portrait of a community in a time gone by. And it's sure to be a favorite of parents, teachers and kids for years to come. Deborah Hopkinson's new book, Shutting out the Sky: Life in the Tenements of New York, will be published this fall.