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Harriet Peck Taylor's Children's Books

Harriet Peck Taylor is an award-winning author and illustrator of children’s picture books.  Learn more about the inspiration behind her stories and illustrations and read reviews of her books.


Coyote Places the Stars by Harriet Peck Taulor
Coyote Places the Stars
by Harriet Peck Taylor. Simon and Schuster Books for
Young Readers 1993. ISBN 0-689-81535-2.

1993 Finalist for the Colorado Book Awards.
1993 Bank Street College: The Best Children's Books of the Year list.


Coyote makes an arrow ladder to the moon. From there he shoots his arrows at the
stars to move them around. He arranges the stars in the shapes of his animal friends
and then calls the animals together to show them what he has done! In this
pourquoi story, we discover the origin of the constellations.

I have always been entranced by the starry sky. I've also spent a great deal of time
observing coyotes in the wild. I'm fascinated by these wily creatures and think I
understand a little bit of why Coyote is so central to the mythology of many
American Indians. My adaptation was inspired by a real life coyote and also by the
magic of the night sky.

"This arresting picture book debut posits how star constellations came to be...
Taylor's down to earth presentation of this magical story adds to its charm...Striking
batik illustrations on cotton fabric painted with dyes, show violet skies sprinkled
with stars, and layered landscapes scenically detailed. This book pulses with the
effervescent joy of color and creation, and children will love being swirled into its
center." Publisher's Weekly October 4, 1993

"Buffalo herds running across the plains... glow with the rich colors of the desert.
Taylor's batik-and-dye paintings are a good match for the casual, playful rhythm of
her retelling. Ultimately her book pays tribute to a beautiful world."
Booklist November 15, 1993

Coyote and the Laughing Butterflies by Harriet Peck Taylor

Coyote and the Laughing Butterflies
by Harriet Peck Taylor. Simon and
Schuster Books for Young Readers 1995. ISBN 0-02788846-0.

A Junior Library Guild selection.
1997-1998 Nominated for Nebraska Golden Sower Award


In this lighthearted tale from the Tewa, we find out why butterflies don't fly
straight. The butterflies team up to play a trick on Coyote. They laugh so hard that
they are unable to fly in a straight line.

I really enjoyed the sheer joy of this legend. When I read the story and show the
illustrations, children always laugh, and so I can see how much relevance these
ancient tales still have.

"A delightful retelling of a Tewa legend... The softly textured batik illustrations add
feeling and depth to this simple legend. Dusty oranges, blues, tans, and greens
capture the New Mexican landscape and bring life to the vibrant scenes of the mesa
and the animals' expressions and antics. A satisfying selection, creatively designed,
with beautiful pictures and striking imagery." School Library Journal 1995

"There are many coyote legends but one of the most charming is Coyote and the
Laughing Butterflies. This is a lovely story with beautiful, richly colored
illustrations. The drawings are imbued with the life and energy of the desert. Love
of her subject matter comes through clearly. With simple lines and subtle shading,
she captures the unique personalities of the animals. They are characters that
children will love." KUVO National Public Radio, July 13, 1995

Brother Wolf by Harriet Peck Taylor
Brother Wolf A Seneca Tale
by Harriet Peck Taylor. Farrar Straus Giroux 1996
ISBN 0-374-30997-3.

1996 Finalist for the Colorado Book Awards.
1996 Bank Street College: The Best Children's Books of the Year list.


This retelling from the Seneca is filled with mischief and fun. The pourquoi story
explains how the birds got their colors. Wolf paints the birds as a reward for helping him
after he was tricked by raccoon.

I am an avid bird lover and never cease to be amazed by their beautiful colors. This
legend made me think about how drab the world would be without the color they bring
to everyday life. I hope that it may also be a tool to help children identify and appreciate
various birds.

"Any retelling in a glutted field, must have something to distinguish itself from the pack.
Taylor exhibits the necessary originality and winsomeness to do just that, without
deviating too far from traditional folk art styles. Taylor's knowledge of the animal
kingdom brings honesty to the tale." School Library Journal 1996

"The tale, clearly told in simple language, is greatly enhanced by the vivid colors of
Taylor's skillful batiks. Strong lines and somewhat primitive shapes create easily
recognized species of animals and plants. Even before the birds' transformation, the
world is full of color." Booklist November 1, 1996

When Bear Stole the Chinook by Harriet Peck Taylor
When Bear Stole the Chinook
A Siksika Tale by Harriet Peck Taylor. Farrar
Straus Giroux 1997. ISBN 0-374-30589-7.

A Junior Library Guild selection.

This is an adaptation from a Siksika (northern band of the Blackfoot) legend. A boy and
his animal friends discover that a bear has stolen the Chinook. They journey to the den of
the bear and are able to recoup the warm wind and thus save the tribe from the cold of

This tale appealed to me for several reasons. The boy who is one of the smallest and
weakest in his tribe, becomes the hero. Also, his closest friends are birds and animals
and that concept is very close to my heart.

"An eye-catching and accessible version of a traditional tale. Taylor's batik illustrations
work well; their bold design features sweeping wintry landscapes and large, easy to see
animals. Distinctive borders that vary on each double-page spread contributes cultural
authenticity to the book." School Library Journal October 1997

"Taylor illustrates her brief, easy-reading retelling with accomplished pictorial batiks,
that, in their stylized forms and carefully detailed teepees, patterns, and articles of dress,
recall Paul Goble's art." Kirkus Reviews September 1, 1997

Ulaq amd the Northern Lights by Harriet Peck Taylor
Ulaq and the Northern Lights
by Harriet Peck Taylor. Farrar Straus Giroux 1998.
ISBN 0-374-38063-5.

A Junior Library Guild selection.

After seeing the northern lights for the first time, a curious arctic fox travels across the
snowy tundra and asks the animals he encounters if they know what is lighting up the
night sky.

I'll never forget the first time I saw the aurora borealis. I was on a camping trip and
when I saw them, and, like Ulaq, was filled with wonder, curiosity, and amazement. I
tried to bring these qualities to the characters in the book. In the illustrations, I tried to
convey the beauty and radiance of northern lights.

"The batik illustrations with white outlines and colors fading in and out are a fantastic
medium for depicting the northern lights, the cold night on the snow-covered tundra."
The Horn Book Guide July-December 1998

"Crisp, bold illustrations rendered in rich shades of blue and purple accented with stark
whites are well suited to the snowy, icy setting of the smoothly written tale. Blending
numerous legends together, this attractive original folktale will be a solid addition to
folktale collections and a good choice for reading aloud." Booklist December 1998

Secrets of the Stone by Harriet Peck Taylor
Secrets of the Stone
by Harriet Peck Taylor. Farrar Straus Giroux 2000. ISBN 0-374-366483.

2000 Bank Street College: The Best Children's Books of the Year list.

This, is my newest book, it is about petroglyphs. Coyote and Badger are hunting one day when
they come upon an amazing sight, the walls of a cave covered with ancient rock art. Other
animal friends join them and they all wondered at the origins of these pictures. Later, in a
dream, Coyote goes back to the time when the creatures in the rock art roamed the land.

I became inspired to do this story after a camping trip to Utah. On one of the hikes, my
brother and I stumbled on a cave with petroglyphs on the rock wall. It was a powerful
and mysterious sight, and I wondered what those ancient artists might have been trying
to communicate.

"Taylor's fine batik illustrations are both invigorating and cozy, inviting children to learn
about the remarkable art of early humans." Booklist 11/15/2000

"Taylor has spent time in the southwest and has felt a connection with our ancient
ancestors which she shares in this story. Her batik illustrations are bold and stunning.
They are imbued with the magic of the ancients and along with the story, transport us
back to a wondrous time." Children's Literature 2000

"This batik is more skillful than you've probably seen before. The colors are rich and
distinctive, and the figures are simple-appealingly reminiscent of cave paintings. Her
evocation of the southwestern desert and its denizens is at times heartbreakingly
beautiful, and children should enjoy the animal antics." Boulder Daily Camera 11/2000



Two Days in May by Harriet Peck Taylor


Two Days in May by Harriet Peck Taylor, illustrated by Leyla Torres. Farrar Straus

Giroux 1999. ISBN 0-374-37988-2.

1999 Americas Commended Title
1999 Parent’s Choice Recommended Book
2001-2002 Show Me readers Award Master List (Missouri)
2001 America Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals annotated bibliography of children’s Books


This book was inspired by events that did happen in Chicago in 1996. In this story deer wandered into the inner city and the neighbors bond together to provide a safe haven for the deer.

I felt I had an important story to tell here because decreasing animal habitat is an issue that is becoming more commonplace and widespread. I was also inspired by how the neighborhood worked together to do something really positive.

“Harriet Peck Taylor has recreated a heartwarming story.  Though the story seems implausible, it can and does happen with increasing frequency. As suburbs continue to take over wildlife habitat, animals become less and less afraid of people. This is an important story that will lead to needed discussion about the delicate relationship between humans and other animals with whom they share the earth.”
Children’s Literature 1999

“A strong sense of community and an awareness of vanishing natural habitats are at the core of this discussion-provoking story which is based on a true event.”
Americas Award Review Committee 2000

Learn more about this book on Leyla Torres' (the illustrator) website: Leyla Torres



Copyright © 2016 Harriet Peck Taylor

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