“It is a tale of the universal spirit of all living things, and their eternal connection to each other,” said Nancy Wood of Old Coyote, her simple story of a wise creature’s final journey, masterfully illustrated by Max Grafe. These words could apply to virtually all of Nancy Wood’s books, from inspirational collections of her own poetry and prose to an anthology chronicling the history of the Taos Pueblo Indians. The author of more than ten books for children, teens, and adults, Nancy Wood has garnered such honors as a prestigious Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and an International Reading Association Teacher’s Choices Award for her stunning Spirit Walker: Poems by Nancy Wood, illustrated by Frank Howell. Indeed, many of her poems have had such a powerful impact on readers that they are often read at weddings and funerals.
Nancy Wood said that she wrote the story of Old Coyote when her seven-year-old grandson came to her, grief-stricken, after his dog was run over by a car. “He wanted to know if Buddy had gone to heaven,” she said. “I explained that Buddy had dreamed himself into another world; that he was, at that very moment, beginning a new life, maybe as a horse this time, or a bear. He had begun a new and natural circle.” Certainly, the deeply moving Old Coyote suggests a universal meaning as well. “Old Coyote is a book about beginnings and endings and love among all creatures of the earth,” Nancy Wood said. “It is a metaphor for the mystery, beauty, and certainty of death. How easy life would be if, like Old Coyote, we accepted death as a natural part of life. Life may be long or short, happy or sad, but whatever we’re given, we should make the most of it, the way Old Coyote does as he changes one world for another, unafraid.”
Nancy Wood also penned How the Tiny People Grew Tall: An Original Creation Tale, illustrated by Rebecca Walsh. Of her fanciful tale, Nancy says, “We are all Tiny People at heart. Though the story of these Tiny People is based on an American Indian emergence myth, it could be about people and animals anywhere.”
The award-winning poet, novelist, photographer, and children’s book author lived near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Nancy Wood died in 2013.