Turquoise Tail
by Rachel Bate
Mascot Books

"You are special my friend, so please stay focused."

This children's book is a masterpiece. The words, the illustrations, the lessons, and even the paper quality are all spot on and exceptional in the genre of children's books. Aside from being gorgeous at first look, the book's messages are moving. Because the author is a teacher and obviously realizes that empathy can be taught, the main message is "Be nice." A caring person can walk children through the paces, and Bate does just that with Cielo the coyote and his forest cohorts.

Like a modern-day ugly duckling, Cielo the coyote pup wears her differences in an obvious way, but her outstanding physical quality is her turquoise tail. Of course, the other animals in the forest laugh and ridicule Cielo, but Cielo has kindness and karma on her side. Cielo endures, but not without some tools in the coping toolbox: "Please, little lizard, leave me alone, for as it is now, I do not have a home," says the sad and isolated turquoise-tailed coyote, using her personal strength and voice to plead for compassion.

Illustrations can be in as many styles as there are artists, but illustrator Rebecca Jacob nails it for this story, telling a visual tale of a pup yearning for empathy. The colors and the expressions in the animals' eyes seem perfect to enchant kindergartners. If this book doesn't make a five-year-old child want to read, nothing will. Frankly, there are a plethora of good books out there for children, but what will undoubtedly make this one special and notable is the likelihood that little ones will either be requesting to hear it read to them over and over or wanting to read it again themselves.

Bate's Sante Fe Tom was a 2021 Eric Hoffer Book Award Category Finalist

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