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Dust Devil

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Here is the thrilling, thigh-slapping companion to Swamp Angel, the beloved Caldecott Honor–winning picture book.

Swamp Angel has a reputation as the greatest woodswoman and wildest wildcat in all of Tennessee. But when she grows too big for that state, she moves to Montana, a place so sizeable, even Angel can fit in. It’s there that she wrestles a raging storm to the ground and, at its center, finds herself a sidekick—a horse she names Dust Devil. And when Backward Bart, the ...

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Dust Devil

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Here is the thrilling, thigh-slapping companion to Swamp Angel, the beloved Caldecott Honor–winning picture book.

Swamp Angel has a reputation as the greatest woodswoman and wildest wildcat in all of Tennessee. But when she grows too big for that state, she moves to Montana, a place so sizeable, even Angel can fit in. It’s there that she wrestles a raging storm to the ground and, at its center, finds herself a sidekick—a horse she names Dust Devil. And when Backward Bart, the orneriest, ugliest outlaw ever known, starts terrorizing the prairie, seems like Angel and Dust Devil may be the only ones strong enough to stop him.

Dust Devil received four starred reviews and was named a New York Times Notable Children's Book of the Year and an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Winner. Children will be captivated by the beauty and exaggerated humor of Paul Zelinsky’s American primitive–style paintings and the wit and energy of Anne Isaacs’s unparalleled storytelling. Here is an original folktale starring an extraordinary gal who is as feisty as she is funny and as courageous as she is kind.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this romping sequel, Isaacs's far-fetched tall tale is again paired with Zelinsky's stunning American-primitive paintings, framed by the wood upon which they are painted. Isaacs opens with a nod to the first lines of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn--"Unless you've read a book called Swamp Angel, you may not know about Angelica Longrider." The beginning of the story, in which Angel gets settled in her new home of Montana, is clever if overlong ("That's a beaut," she says creating Montana's buttes), but Isaacs more than delivers with a battle royal between Angel and a band of mosquito-riding cowboy scoundrels. Zelinsky's action-packed panoramas capture Angel's Paul Bunyanlike strength; when Angel rides a "bucking blast" of wind, Zelinsky morphs the tornado into a magnificent, cloud-colored horse that Angel names Dust Devil. Isaacs wraps her narrative in exaggeration that will have kids howling; "Talk about mean!" she says of Backward Bart's villainous gang. "They were pricklier than porcupines in a cactus patch." And she hints about a possible sequel when the desperadoes' gold fillings wash "downstream, all the way to California.... But that's another story." Ages 5-9. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
Swamp Angel is back in a rollicking adventure that will keep her fans turning the pages. Too big for Tennessee, Swamp Angel has moved to Montana, a place big enough for her to stretch out in. One day when a roaring dust storm reaches her ranch, Angel rides the bucking whirlwind until she tames it. She discovers within a giant horse, claims it for her own, and names it Dust Devil. It isn't long before she runs into Backward Bart, so named because his mama had to roll him backward in his stroller due to his ugliness. Since no self-respecting horse will carry him, he rides into town on the back of a giant Montana-sized mosquito. Angel mounts Dust Devil and hurls lightening bolts at Bart and his desperadoes; eventually, she drives them all the way to Kansas by throwing Aunt Bessie's rock hard biscuits at the greedy outlaws. Soon the toothless gang is safe in jail, with all their gold fillings washing down the mountain springs to California. Could that be a story for another day? Angel is just as clever and just as feisty in this hilarious tall tale sequel, and Bart and his gang have met their match. This telling is a bit lengthy but if read aloud, kids will be hanging on every word and laughing out loud at the origins of the Buttes of Montana, the Grand Canyon, the Sawtooth mountain range, and the hot water geysers. Prepare to listen to kids talking backwards like Bart after hearing his "pee-yip" and "Mee-yum." Zelinsky once again creates the atmosphere of the Old West with energy-filled oil paintings on maple and aspen veneers. Each oval or rectangular painting bordered in red begs the reader to spend a little time examining every nuance. Another winner from this Caldecott Honor book team. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—Zelinsky and Isaacs pull out all the stops in this dazzling companion to Swamp Angel (Dutton, 1994). Angelica "Angel" Longrider, the "wildest wildcat in Tennessee," has moved to Montana, "a country so sizable even Angel could fit in." The West seems to suit the feisty heroine, but she has trouble finding a horse powerful enough to carry her until she wrestles a violent storm and Dust Devil emerges mythically out of the fray. Isaacs's text, rich in playful language and alliteration, never misses the opportunity to make the most of the tall-tale convention as the formidable duo embark on a series of action-packed adventures centered on vanquishing a band of backward-speaking bad guys. Zelinsky has a heyday masterfully illustrating the high jinks with his meticulous oil paintings on cedar, aspen, and maple veneers, all of which are elegantly encased by a thin red border. Using softly glowing tones, he brands his own version of a Western folk style to flawlessly render the big-sky setting. The variety of layouts such as ovals, strips, and spot art effectively propel the hilarious, multilayered plot forward while panoramic spreads breathtakingly showcase the story's most dramatic moments. Readers will chuckle over the absurdity of the giant mosquitoes ridden by nasty Bart and his gang and learn the origins of buttes, geysers, the Grand Canyon, and even the California gold rush. A stunning tour de force and a satisfying continuation of Angel's saga.—Caroline Ward, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Isaacs and Zelinsky tell an even taller tale about Angelica Longrider, the outsized heroine of their hilarious, Caldecott Honor–winning Swamp Angel. Having outgrown Tennessee, Angel moves to roomy Montana, where she faces a wild dust-devil horse and a bandit named Backward Bart, born so ugly that his mother rolled him around backwards in his stroller. He walked, spoke and robbed backward ever since. Bart's garbled threats remain funny even after several readings. "Cash your gimme!" just doesn't get old. Side-splitting similes abound as well; Bart's nefarious cronies are "pricklier than porcupines in a cactus patch." Singsongy, colloquial narration guides readers from predicament to outlandish predicament with humor and folksy charm. Angel's antics, pictured in oval and rectangular panels and surrounded by rippling wood grains, neatly explain the topography of the West in traditional folk-story fashion (wrestling the bucking bronco, Angel's feet drag across the ground, creating the Grand Canyon). Zelinsky's rustic oil illustrations offer a gallery of comic faces, frozen in exaggerated surprise, shock and frustration. Artfully crude, comedic artwork, friendly, understated narration and a wildly hyperbolic story combine to create a new classic. (Picture book. 4-10)
Bruce Barcott
Generations ago this kind of big-sky storytelling was an oral folk art. Tale-­spinners like Hathaway Jones, the Munchausen of Oregon's Rogue River country, helped people pass long evenings and laugh away hardship with tales of ridiculous deprivation: Cold? This is nothing. Heck, one winter it was so cold the water froze under the jumping salmon, left 'em stranded on hard ice. It was entertainment, succor and backhanded bragging, and Anne Isaacs has the style, the tone, the motifs and the humor absolutely nailed. It's as if the author discovered Angelica the Angel hidden away in some old folkways archive in the Smithsonian.
—The New York Times
From the Publisher
 “[A] handsomely designed, thoroughly entertaining stand-alone sequel.”—Booklist, starred review

“A stunning tour de force” —School Library Journal, starred review

“Will have kids howling.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

A new classic.” —Kirkus Review, starred review

"Precise and witty illustrations" —The New York Times Book Review

“This gifted team has produced the best picture book of the year!” —Oppenheim Toy Portfolio

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375867224
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 9/14/2010
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 578,799
  • Age range: 6 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD900L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Isaacs is the award-winning author of many books for children, including Swamp Angel, a Caldecott Honor Book, an ALA-ALSC Notable Book, and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book; Cat Up a Tree, a New York Public Library Title for Reading and Sharing; Torn Thread, an ALA-ALSC Notable Book and a National Jewish Book Award finalist; and Pancakes for Supper, winner of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Best Book Award. Ms. Isaacs lives in Berkeley, California. Visit her at

Paul O. Zelinsky is one of the most highly acclaimed illustrators working today. He has received a Caldecott Medal for his telling of Rapunzel, and three Caldecott Honors, for Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel, and Swamp Angel, which the New York Times Book Review called “in all ways superb.” The illustrator of Emily Jenkins’s popular Toys Go Out and its sequel, Toy Dance Party, Mr. Zelinsky is also the creator of the bestselling mechanical book The Wheels on the Bus. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Learn more about him at

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2014

    Dust devil

    Great book

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