for Swamp Angel by Anne Isaacs and Paul O. Zelinsky
"On August 1, 1815, when Angelica Longrider took her first gulp of air on this earth, there was nothing to suggest that she would become the greatest woodswoman in Tennessee. The newborn was scarcely taller than her mother and couldn't climb a tree without help." So begins this original tall tale about a woman who'd give Paul Bunyan a run for his money. Isaac's amusing, folksy account centers on Angelica's magnificent battle with a huge bear known as Thundering Tarnation who'd been terrorizing the whole state of Tennessee -- that is, until he crossed paths with the great woodswoman nicknamed "Swamp Angel." Zelinsky's brilliantly rendered illustrations were painted with oils on cherry, maple, and birch veneers, as would befit the greatest of Tennessee woodswomen. His wry, larger-than-life depictions of the Swamp Angel and her "most wondrous heap of trouble" provide the perfect complement to Anne Isaacs' delightful story. (Ages 3-8)
CCBC Choices 1994. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1994. Used with permission.
Working in an American primitive style animated by the humor and storytelling genius for which he is renowned, Caldecott Winner artist Paul O. Zelinsky puts oils to cherry and maple for this tall-tale competition between a Tennessee woods-woman extraordinaire and a hungry, fearsome bear. Thundering Tarnation has a bottomless appetite for settler's grub. When word goes out about a competition to hunt this four-legged forest of stubble, a young woman, second to none in buckskin bravery, signs up. "How about baking a pie, Angel?" the other hunters taunt. "I aim to," says Swamp Angel. "A bear pie." What follows is as witty a round of roughhousing as ever jostled the ranks of Americana. Anne Isaacs' original text unfolds in a crackling combination of irony, exaggeration, and bold image-making. Zelinsky's paintings respond with deft yet hilarious expressions, rhythmic shapes, and a sense of monumental motion, as benefits a heroine who can wield a tornado like a lasso, drink a lake dry, and snore down a forest. In the course of these grand shenanigans, the Great Smoky Mountains are stirred up, Montana's short-grass prairie laid down, and Thundering Tarnation's fate proves to have no less a reach than the starry heavens. Swamp Angel marks the debut of a promising new storyteller and adds to the tall-tale traditions a pictorial counterpart that will entertain and endure for a long time to come.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.