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