September 2010

Riding high in the Wild West

By Anne Isaacs
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“I’ll call you Dust Devil, and from now on we’ll ride together. I reckon I’ve finally found the horse that can carry me.”

So declares Swamp Angel, the wildest wildcat and most wonderful woodswoman in all of Tennessee. Well, actually, Swamp Angel has moved on since we saw her last, to magnificent Montana, Big Sky country, a place grand enough for Swamp Angel’s size and energy. It is there, while wrestling a dust storm, that she finds Dust Devil, her horse and sidekick.

And just in time. Because before she can croon a cowboy ballad, Swamp Angel must face the notorious Backward Bart (half rattlesnake, half badger and half mad hornet) and his gang of Flying Desperados.

Anne Isaacs and Paul Zelinsky, who teamed up to create the Caldecott Honor book Swamp Angel, have created a fabulous original folktale in this long-awaited sequel. Isaacs’s rollicking prose is perfectly matched with Zelinsky’s humorous, accomplished art.

Backward Bart, the bad guy in this tall tale, is so big his hands are the size of shovels, and his varmints are so ornery no self-respecting horse will carry them. So, naturally, they ride mosquitoes. And as everyone knows, mosquitoes in Montana are monsters. Why, “A Montana mosquito can carry a heavy suitcase and two watermelons on each wing without sweating.” What’s worse, their stingers are as long as swords.

Swamp Angel is up for the challenge. But, as Sheriff Napalot informs her, the law says that only a man can be deputized to join the posse to hunt down an outlaw. Luckily, there’s no law that says a woman can’t round up a mosquito! So Swamp Angel and Dust Devil set off on a mission to outride and outsmart Bart’s mosquitoes—and their riders.

Dust Devil is a big and spectacular in every way. And it’s sure to garner a lot of buzz (pun intended). Even better, Dust Devil will delight boys and girls whether they’re sitting around the campfire, or curled up in their bedrolls for one last story after a hard day on the trail.

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Dust Devil

Dust Devil

By Anne Isaacs
Random House
ISBN 9780375867224

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