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How Little Coyote Found His Secret Strength (Hidden Strengths Therapeutic Children's Books) ISBN: 9781785927713
Hu, C.C. Alicia, Kuo, Ching-Pang, Ogden, Pat and Westcott, Anne
Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2017
This series of books by authors trained in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy emphasise the bodily attributes that happen when children are mistreated or experience trauma of any sort. In this one, we meet Little Coyote, who is bullied by the big coyotes he lives with, and as he is too young to leave the group, he must adapt to their bullying. This involves being called Wimpy, being submissive, stealing when demanded, and being physically punched. The pictures show us how his body adapts to all of this: he becomes hunched over and speaks very quietly, he steals eggs even though he knows it is wrong (but is proud of himself for having the techniques to do so) and when he is punched, his mind goes ‘far away’ while his muscles ‘go soft’. These are some of his hidden strengths, and he uses them because he has no other choices. On an adventure in the forest, he comes across a cat and a rabbit. Might they become friends? In a race with the cat, Little Coyote again feels a failure because the cat climbs a tree, and he can’t get to her. He can only be pleased that the other coyotes didn’t see this defeat. In his dreams he meets the cat and other animals, and the strength of his body means that he and cat are able to finish the race together and be friends. The fact that he has this strength is very encouraging to Little Coyote, but the Moon, who has always looked over him, knows that the next day he will be facing the terrible coyotes again. She knows his ‘true nature’ and hopes that one day his inner strengths will lead him to be the kind of person she knows he can be. She sends him a little song for incentive. The story ends here, so we don’t know the outcome, but there is hope for Little Coyote. One of the great strengths of the book is the information included for those working with children suffering trauma. Some of this is aimed at talking about the book with children and doing activities with them, but the ‘Guide for Grown-ups’ is a detailed study of Little Coyote’s hidden strengths – his submission to the bullying, his stealth when stealing the eggs, his self-confidence and bodily strength in his dream sequence, and adults and friends as a secure support as shown by Moon’s love and care - this last ‘hidden strength’ being given by those helping the child. Practical and useful, the latter will provide help to care-givers of all sorts. The illustrations are gentle towards Little Coyote and show clearly how he is dealing with his problems. Available from Amazon, from good book shops, and from the publisher:
Age: 4+