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Excerpt from The Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Jaguar's Children

by John Vaillant

The Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant X
The Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2015, 288 pages

    Paperback:
    Jan 2016, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte
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1

Thu Apr 5—08:31 [text]

hello i am sorry to bother you but i need your assistance—i am hector—cesars friend—its an emergency now for cesar—are you in el norte? I think we are also—arizona near nogales or sonoita—since yesterday we are in this truck with no one coming—we need water and a doctor—and a torch for cutting metal



Thur Apr 5—08:48 [text]

please text me annimac—we need help



Thu Apr 5—08:59 [text]

are you there annimac? it's hector—please text me



Thu Apr 5—09:52 [text]

there was a storm—1 bar only now—ARE YOU THERE???



Thu Apr 5—10:09 [text]

1 bar—something's broken—maybe from the lightning—the helicopter came again but doesn't stop—how do they not see us? Nothing going now



Thu Apr 5—10:26 [soundfile]

Hello? I hope this works. Still one bar only but I'm recording now and when the signal comes back I will send it in a file with all the details and the information from César. He is badly hurt, AnniMac??—??unconscious. I looked in his contacts for someone else, but the Mexican numbers won't work now, and you are the only one with an American code. I hope you are his friend. I know him from school, but I haven't seen him in many years. We've been together only a short time now to cross the border and already he gave me so many things. I have been telling him he's not alone, that I sent you messages and you're coming soon, that you will save us. I don't know if he hears, but in this darkness how will he know to live without a voice—some sign of life? So I talk to him, and to you also.

AnniMac, if you get these messages and come to look for us what you are looking for is a water truck—an old Dina. The tank is a big one—ten thousand liters and you will know it when you see an adobe-color truck that says on the side AGUA PARA USO HUMANO—Water for Human Use. But that doesn't mean you can drink it. This one is different because someone has painted J and R so it says now JAGUAR PARA USO HUMANO. I saw this in the garage before we loaded and I didn't know if it was graffiti or some kind of code, the secret language of coyotes, but then I was nervous to ask and later it was too late.



Thu Apr 5—10:34

It works. I made a soundfile. I will send it when the bars come back, and this one also. The coyotes told us it was a good idea to fill a water truck with people. A good way to get across. No one will know we are here because there is no way into the tank besides two small pipes in the back. The door on top is too small for a person, and they put a box inside with water so if the truck is stopped and searched by la Migra it will not look suspicious. This is what the coyotes told us, like they were describing special features on a new car. It is expensive to do it they said, and this is why we must pay extra, but only un poquito. They were talking fast all the time, but not as fast as their eyes.

Some things you want to know about coyotes—just like in the wild nature there are no fat ones and no old ones. They are young machos hoping one day to be something more—a heavy, a real chingón. But first they must do this thing—this taking across the border, and this is where they learn to be hard. Coyotes have another name also. Polleros. A pollero is a man who herds the chickens. There is no such thing really because chickens go where they want, but this is the name for these men. And we—the ones who want to cross—are the pollos. Maybe you know pollo is not a chicken running in the yard—gallina is the name for that. Pollo is chicken cooked on a plate—a dinner for coyotes. This is who is speaking to you now.

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Excerpted from The Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant. Copyright © 2015 by John Vaillant. Excerpted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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