cover image Dust Devil

Dust Devil

Anne Isaacs, illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky, Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-375-86722-4

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.)