'Purple Coyote'

Story Time

May 19, 1999|By Cornette

Editor's note: A little boy yearns to know the purple coyote's secret but later wishes he hadn't been so curious.

In the middle of a flat and arid desert stood a hill of sand and rock.

Near this hill was a small house.

Jim played alone in the garden with his old truck, which was missing one wheel.

One day, a coyote appeared on the hill.

A coyote unlike any other.

A purple coyote.

Jim watched him.

The coyote did a little dance. Then he balanced himself on his right front paw and let out a strange howl:


He sat down, letting the evening wind slowly untangle his purple fur.

Night fell and the moon rose. Jim watched the purple coyote until his mother called him for dinner.

The next day, Jim didn't play with his truck, which has lost a second wheel.

He went to wait for the coyote at the bottom of the hill.

The purple coyote appeared. He did his little dance, balanced himself on his right front paw and let out his "WULULI WULA WULILA WUWU WA!"

Jim climbed up the hill.

It wasn't very hard, as the hill was neither high nor steep.

He went up to the animal, greeted him and asked, "Why are you purple? That's not normal for a coyote!"

"I won't tell you!" answered the coyote.

"Why not?"

"Because it's a secret! But you can ask me questions if you want."

Jim thought hard. He looked the purple coyote straight in the eyes and asked, "Did you eat too many blueberries?"

"I never eat blueberries," the coyote replied.

Every afternoon, the purple coyote returned to the hill, did his little dance, balanced himself on his right front paw and howled:


Every afternoon, Jim joined the coyoted, greeted him and asked him a question.

"Did you put purple dye on your fur?"

"No," answered the coyote.

"Were you born purple?"


"Did you catch purple-itis?"


"Did you catch purple fever?"


The days went by. Jim began to lose patience.

"I don't care if I never find out why you're purple!" he shouted at the coyote.

In his anger, he thought about not coming up the hill anymore, but his curiosity was too strong.

"Tell me instead why you do that dance and why you howl in that funny way?" he asked.

The coyote smiled. "That's my second secret," he said.

Jim tried very hard to keep calm. He acted as though he didn't care. "That's a stupid secret," he said. "Anyone can dance and howl like that! Look!"

Jim did the little dance, then leaned over on his right arm and howled a piercing "WULULI WULA WULILA WUWU WA!"

All at once, Jim turned purple.

As for the coyote, he got his color back. He was once again the color of desert and sand.

"Well done!" said the coyote. "You've discovered my two secrets in just one try! You've given me back my natural color. Now I can leave. Goodbye, Jim!"

He disappeared into the vast desert.

Jim was now all purple and by himself.

Night had fallen on the hill when a little raccoon came up to him.

"Hello!" the raccoon said.

"Hello!" replied the purple kid.

"Did you see?" said Jim. "I'm purple all over."

"Yes," said the small animal.

"It's my secret," Jim went on. "Do you want to find out why?"


Excerpted from PURPLE COYOTE by Cornette and illustrated by Rochette. Copyright (c) 1997 by l'ecole des loisirs, Paris. First American edition 1999. Originally published in France by Pastel, 1997. English translation Copyright (c) 1999 by Random House, Inc. Published by arrangement with Random House Children's Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, New York, U.S.A. All rights reserved.

Pub Date: 05/19/99

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