Elmore Leonard is probably best known for his adult fiction, particularly those books which were made into Hollywood blockbusters like Get Shorty and Jackie Brown. A Coyote’s In The House was his only foray into children’s fiction and I was very curious to see what it would be like.
Antwan is a coyote who lives in the Hollywood Hills. He is a teenage rebel, running with his pack mates, the Diabolos and looking after his younger sister, Ramona. One day, spying on a glamorous Hollywood home, Antwan jumps the fence and makes friends with an alsatian called Buddy.
Buddy is a Hollywood veteran, star of many movies, he is now past his best and pining for the days when he was important. Miss Betty, a poodle who wins beauty pageants is worried about him. Can Buddy’s friendship with Antwan change his fortunes?
This is a strange book. It reads rather like one of Leonard’s gangster/crime novels, but is not really too violent (unless you’re a cat), and has quite an old fashioned, moral feel to it. I’m not sure I liked it much, but then I’ve never been a huge fan of animal stories. It does make a refreshing change to the usual, twee, Animal Ark style books that seem to be the staple of books which feature animals as the main characters though.
The book is reasonably short, with short, accessible chapters and some great black and white drawings by the renowned illustrator and author, Lauren Child. I would have liked more illustrations to make this a perfect transition style book for readers who are not yet ready to move on to fully fledged novels. As it is, it is a bit wordy.
I recommend it to boys and girls aged from about seven up. Children may have a little difficulty with some of the American slang, particularly Antwan’s style of speaking, but given how much American television children watch these days, I’m probably kidding myself.