In the long-ago time. . . when men and beasts could talk together and understand each other,"" an Indian boy and a coyote travel westward to the Burning Mountain for fire to keep the people warm. Though the boy and 100 runners from the tribe relay the prize to their home, it is the coyote who initiates the project and who tells the boy on the way that ""it is red like a flower but it is not a flower"" and ""it can run raging through the grass and devour all. . . (but) it is not a beast""; it is the coyote too who steals a blazing piece of wood from the mountain's Fire Spirits. . . ""And this is the sign that the tale is true. All along the Coyote's thin sides the fur is singed and yellow to this very day, as it was by the flames that blew backward from the brand when he brought it down from the Burning Mountain."" Parnall's strong, clean illustrations complement the unadorned dignity of the tale and the telling.