Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale

by Duncan Tonatiuh (Author)

Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant's Tale
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

In this allegorical picture book, a young rabbit named Pancho eagerly awaits his papa's return. Papa Rabbit traveled north two years ago to find work in the great carrot and lettuce fields to earn money for his family. When Papa does not return, Pancho sets out to find him. He packs Papa's favorite meal--mole, rice and beans, a heap of warm tortillas, and a jug of aguamiel--and heads north. He meets a coyote, who offers to help Pancho in exchange for some of Papa's food. They travel together until the food is gone and the coyote decides he is still hungry . . . for Pancho!

Duncan Tonatiuh brings to light the hardship and struggles faced by thousands of families who seek to make better lives for themselves and their children by illegally crossing the border.

Select format:

School Library Journal

K-Gr 2--When Papa Rabbit does not return from the lettuce and carrot fields of El Norte, Pancho Rabbit sneaks off in the night to search for him. He runs into Senor Coyote, who offers to help, but demands that Pancho give him the food he is carrying. When the mole, beans, and tortillas are gone, and they have finally crossed the big wall, Coyote is about to eat Pancho when Papa and his friends come to his rescue. Animals stand in for people in this morality play about immigration, allowing readers to see the migrant's side of the story. Children will learn a bit about Mexican culture from the hand-drawn and digitally collaged folk-art-inspired illustrations depicted in warm desert colors as well as from the author's note. The stylized, flat illustrations put the story in context and set the mood. The book shows the fragility of making a living, the desperation that many migrants experience, and the deep family ties that bind the characters. Classrooms studying the migrant experience will find plenty to discuss here.--Angela J. Reynolds, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, Bridgetown, NS, Canada

Copyright 2013 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

Tonatiuh (Diego Rivera: His World and Ours) uses an animal cast to create a valuable portrait of the often-perilous journeys of migrant Mexicans who seek work in the U.S. to support their families. It is time for Papa Rabbit to return home from working in "El Norte," and his family prepares a celebratory fiesta, but he fails to arrive. When Pancho goes in search of his father, he meets a coyote who agrees to guide him north. In both prose and art, Tonatiuh expertly balances folkloric elements with stark, modern realities; Pancho Rabbit's trip has the feel of a classic fable or fairy tale, with the untrustworthy coyote demanding more and more of him. As in Tonatiuh's previous books, his illustrations draw from ancient Mexican art, but he also incorporates photographic textures, from denim jeans to the zipper on Pancho's mochila (backpack), emphasizing the connection between past and present. An extensive author's note offers a useful springboard for adult-child discussion as Tonatiuh delineates the dangers undocumented immigrants face. The story's bittersweet, even ominous, ending reminds readers that there are no easy solutions. Ages 6-9. (May)

Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Duncan Tonatiuh
Duncan Tonatiuh was born in Mexico City and grew up in San Miguel de Allende, in the historical state of Guanajuato, Mexico. He studied writing and illustration at Parsons School of Design at the New School in New York City. His books, including A Land of Books, Feathered Serpent and the Five Suns, and The Princess and theWarrior, have received many awards over the years. He divides his time between New York City and Mexico.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Harry N. Abrams
Publication date
May 20, 2013
BISAC categories
JUV002250 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Wolves & Coyotes
JUV002210 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Rabbits
JUV013000 - Juvenile Fiction | Family | General
JUV039250 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Emigration & Immigration
Library of Congress categories
Migrant labor
Voyages and travels
Pura Belpre Award
Honor Book 2014 - 2014
Virginia Readers Choice Award
Nominee 2016 - 2016
Americas Award for Children & Young Adult Literature
Honor Book 2014 - 2014

Subscribe to our delicious e-newsletter!