Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: Dan Gemeinnhart
Illustrator: Celia Krampien
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Five years ago, Coyote and her father Rodeo hit the road in an old school bus and never looked back. Until now, Coyote has loved this wild adventure. But one day, Coyote finds out that the old park in her hometown is being torn up and replaced with road. It was in that park five years and ten days ago that she, her mom, and her two sisters buried a box of memories, ten days before Coyote's mom ad sisters were killed in a car accident. Coyote has to somehow convince Rodeo to drive all the way back to Washington, a place he swore he'd never return to, without him realizing what she's doing. Along the way, they pick up passengers that need a ride just as much as Coyote does and find in them the friends they didn't know they were missing. A cat, a runaway bus, lots of gas station snacks, a friendly goat, and a few cop chases later, Coyote is reunited not only with the memory box, but also her dad, her home, her sense of belonging, and her family.
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise is a celebration of all the good and bad in life. Funny and wise beyond its years, this story explores themes of grief, loss, fear, and reconciliation in ways that are approachable for a junior high reader. This book also addresses current social issues in ways that are palatable and in no way heavy-handed. Along their journey, Rodeo and Coyote pick up a Catholic mother and son running away from their abusive husband and father, a young aspiring musician trying to reconcile with his girlfriend, and a girl whose parents kicked her out because of her sexual orientation. In a beautiful way, each character is equally valued in their roles in the motley crew and the plot of the book. Coyote's hippie dad Rodeo has a bit of a mouth on him and occasionally uses mild swear words in moments of great excitement. Readers will be engrossed in the fast-paced, touching, and often both lighthearted and emotionally suspenseful writing of this short novel.
*Contains mild language.