SILVER SPRING, Md., May 2, 2014 — In the spring, Papá Rabbit heads north with others to find work in the great carrot and lettuce fields so he can make money for his family. After being gone for a long time, Papá Rabbit is supposed to return home. His family prepares a big party to celebrate, but when the time came for Papá to arrive, he is nowhere to be found.
While the rest of his family is asleep, Pancho decides he needs to find his father. He packs Papá’s favorite meal: mole, rice, beans, tortillas and aguamiel. Then Pancho sets out.
While walking, Pancho meets a coyote who offers to take him to the lettuce fields where his father works. All Pancho has to do is give the coyote the mole he had brought for his father. Pancho thinks this sounds like a good trade, and gives the coyote what he wants.
First, they jump onto a passing train. Then they reach a river, but Pancho does not know how to swim, so the coyote offers to take him across if Pancho gives him the rice and beans when they reach the other side. After crossing the river they come to a tall fence that has snakes guarding it. The coyote offers to show Pancho a tunnel to get past if he gives up his tortillas.
On the other side of the fence they walk in the hot desert sun. The coyote shows Pancho a shack where they can spend the night before reaching the carrot and lettuce fields in the morning, all Pancho has to do was give the coyote the aguamiel in his bag. Pancho agrees since he is so close to his father.
That night in the hut the coyote becomes hungry and asks Pancho if he has any more food, but Pancho has already given the coyote everything he has. The coyote is still hungry and decides to eat Pancho, but just as Pancho is about to be eaten, Papá Rabbit and his friend arrive to save Pancho.
Because Pancho has just come north, he remembers the way home and leads his father and friends back home. Unfortunately, the crows have taken all of Papá Rabbit’s money, and he knows that even though he does not want to, if it does not rain soon, he will have to leave again to try to help his family.
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale endeavors to tell the story of what migrant field workers from Mexico go through to provide for their families by going north to find work. The story does a good job of providing some of the very real scenarios that migrants face. By changing the characters to animals, Tonatiuh turns the story into a fable about the migrant struggle and makes it more relatable for children.
The book features Spanish words peppered throughout. While most adults will be familiar with them, there is a brief glossary in the back for any one with questions as to their meaning. The artwork is inspired by Mexican art and the style suits the story perfectly.
Author and illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh is a Mexican American. Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote is his third picture book. He has won the Pura Belpré illustration award and the Tomás Rivera Mexican American children’s book award. Tonatiuh graduated from Parsons The New School for Design and from Eugene Lang College.
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh was published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc on May 7, 2012. It is available as a hardcover or an ebook.