Swamp Angel by Anne Isaacs
This tall tale introduces us to Angelica Longrider, who was born "scarcely taller
than her mother and could't climb a tree without help. By the age of two, she had successfully built her first log cabin.
By the age of twelve, Angelica was given the nickname of 'Swamp Angel' after she helped to free a group
of settlers who were stuck.
Members of the town come together and sign up to hunt down Thundering Tarnation, a bear, after he has eaten
the winter's food supply.
After several failed attemps by the men, Angelica, steps in to become the hero of the town. She throws
Tarnation up into the sky and tornado whips him back down. Tarnation pins her down in a lake, but she drinks
all the water. Finally, Tarnation meets death, when a tree that Angelica snored down falls and kills
The town celebrates with 'bear' food. Angelica prize was Tarnation's pelt. It was too big for
Tennessee, so she drags it to Montana.
Isaacs does a hiliarous job of creating a female tall tale that will give the men, Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan
a run for their money. What a wonderful use of exaggeration to create a female larger than life story! She even
helps to makes the connection of the tornado blowing dust to how the 'Great Smoky Mountains' received their name.
Readers will be left wondering what will Swamp Angel conquer in Montana?
Zelinsky had delivered oil paintings that add to the tall tale effect. There is a picture with Angelica,
shortly after she was born where her head is bigger than both her parents put together. Zelinsky illustrations are drawn
on cherry, maple, and birch veneers, which give the story the rustic, outdoor woodsy feel. There is no wonder why Zelinsky
received the Caldecott Honor Award in 1995.
"She roped that bristled bandit and brought him crashing back to earth."
"She opened her tobaco pouch and empited in onto the end of Tarnation's nose."
"He rolled over in his sleep and sank his jaws into the sweet syrupy torrent. As he guzzled and slurped,
Swamp Angel snored down one last tree."
Isaacs, Anne. 1994. Swamp Angel. New York: Dutton Children's Books. ISBN: