Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote
Tonatiuh, Duncan. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2013. 9781419705830
Quantitative Reading Level: Reading Level 3.3
Qualitative Reading Analysis:
This is a tricky one. On the surface it is a simple tale about a rabbit and a coyote. It is very similar to the other trickster tales where the coyote offers to help but continues to take things from the rabbit until he finally threatens to eat the rabbit. All along, however, it is evident there is more to the story. Pancho’s father has travelled north to work and sends money back to his family. Pancho goes to look for him and must sneak into the north with the help of the coyote. In the author’s note we find out that a coyote is slang for someone who helps people cross the border from Mexico to the US. What we really have is an allegory. That takes the simple book with a reading level of 3.3 to a new level. With its multiple levels of meaning, use of Spanish, and the allegory to immigration the book becomes Middle High on the “Text Complexity: Qualitative Measures Rubric for Literary Text”.
Pancho Rabbit’s father must travel to the North to work and then send money back to his family. The family hears that he is returning and prepares a party but then he doesn’t show up. Pancho decides to go looking for his father. Taking his father’s favorite foods he sets off. He soon meets a coyote who offers to help but as they meet obstacles the coyote demands that Pancho give him the food he brought. Finally, when the food is gone, the coyote threatens to eat Pancho. Fortunately, Pancho’s father hears his screams and comes to rescue him.
In the author’s note we find out that the coyote is actually a slang term for someone who helps immigrants get from Mexico to the US so this story takes on a whole other level as a story of migrant workers sneaking into the US.
Content Area: Social Studies – Immigration, Migrant Workers
Content Area Standard:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
In ELA this book could be read and analyzed as an allegory. Because it is a picture book it could be used as a mentor text for allegories before diving into a novel.
In social studies when discussing immigration issues or migrant workers students could look at this tale and what the author has to say about the topic.
Compare this short tale to other texts about immigration or migrant workers to compare the author’s point of view and opinions.
Article in USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/06/illegal-immigration-childrens-book/2050115/
I thought this was a very interesting book. On one level the story of Pancho and the coyote was very similar to other trickster type tales. It was evident that the coyote was going to end up trying to eat Pancho. I knew something else was going on and that it had to do with migrant workers but it wasn’t until I read the author’s note that I saw the tie in completely. The only thing that bothered me was the ending. Pancho is rescued by his dad, they travel back and celebrate, but then they talk about how the father will have to go back North if it doesn’t rain. Pancho says he will go with him. It ends with the mother saying she hopes it rains. To me the ending seemed abrupt…but maybe it was supposed to be.
Subjects/Themes: Immigration, Migrant Workers
High Interest Annotation: Pancho needs to go North and find his father. Is the coyote helping him or does he have ulterior motives?