Working in an American primitive style animated by the humor and storytelling genius for which he is renowned, Caldecott Award-winning 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.
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