Swamp Angel
illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
published in 2000


Appropriate age:
Older Kid (age 8-11)
Reading level:
Grade 4
Genres: Fiction, Humor, Western
Subjects: Fable, Fairies, Pioneers, School, Fairy Tale, Humor, Magic, Values


On the day of her birth, nothing about Angelica Longrider suggested that she would one day become the greatest woodswoman of Tennessee. In fact, the newborn was "scarcely taller than her mother and couldn't climb a tree without help." It's not long, though, before Angelica is vanquishing varmints such as Thundering Tarnation, a huge bear with a taste for settlers' winter rations, and swallowing entire lakes in a gulp. This tallest of tall tales is an original from an intriguing newcomer to children's books, Anne Isaacs. In the tradition of Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill, the story of a self-sufficient, tornado-wielding, unflappable heroine lopes along at a perfect pace. Paul O. Zelinsky's folksy oil illustrations are painted on cherry, maple, or birch veneers, with old-fashioned frames; the extravagant and fanciful paintings have garnered the distinguished illustrator yet another Caldecott Honor. (Zelinsky has already received one Caldecott Medal for Rapunzel and two Caldecott Honors for Hansel and Gretel and Rumpelstiltskin.) The dry and fantastically far-fetched humor of the author-illustrator team will make readers of all ages feel as though Angelica herself has tossed 'em in the air so high that they are still on the way up at nightfall. (Ages 4 and older) --Emilie Coulter