Title: Coyote Summer
Author: J.S. Kapchinske
Publisher: Moon Halo Books
Genre: Children’s Fiction 9 and up
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About the Book:
Heath always looked forward to summer visits at Grandpa’s—long days in the wild Rocky Mountains, fishing with Dad on the Piedra River, and nights sleeping on the screened-in porch. Plus this summer, Dad promised to finally tell him the secret about old Mrs. Baylis—a mysterious Native American woman living down the dusty dirt road… But now, after Dad’s accident, it can never happen that way. Heath and his mother go to Grandpa’s, but only to spread Dad’s ashes in the river.
In the beginning, Heath feels like he’s been swallowed by the raging Piedra, held upside down in some dark and unforgiving eddy. But one day, wandering along the riverbank, he meets Annie, a wild-eyed tomboy who shows him a hidden cave with a litter of orphaned coyote pups. Together they discover the cave holds another secret—one that might help them figure out the mystery of old Mrs. Baylis.
During that summer in the mountains, Heath comes to realize there is both beauty and ugliness in the world, sometimes all tangled together. By opening himself up to Annie and the coyotes, he rediscovers hope and joy in this big, beautiful, messed-up world.
This reasonably quick read, aimed to middle-school aged children combined a clever story, some life lessons and well-defined characters that stresses the importance of “moving forward” despite fears or struggles. Told in a first-person narrative, the plot moves forward nicely without much hesitation, memories being explored during forward movement rather than stopping to ponder. That clever addition and the development of the character Heath both before and after he meets Annie keeps the pages turning with plenty of interesting word-pictures being created for readers.
With a few untied strings left hanging, and a bit of a rush on the mystery resolution, I think there is plenty of room for an additional story, if not more than one: and certainly makes this an author to look for when your children are in need of another story. A wholly engaging story, full of important lessons delivered through example and not feeling like a lecture, J.S. Kapchinske has created a good option for the ‘book report’ requirements that figured so heavily in my middle school years.
I received an eBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review, all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Giveaway: the author has graciously offered an eBook copy for one lucky winner. Just enter the giveaway listed below.
About the Author:
I love mountains, trees, rivers, dogs and mud between my toes. I work as a writer and environmental scientist in California, where you can find me surfing, backpacking and enjoying each moment I get to spend with my wife and two sons. To find out what I’m up to, check out my website