Monday, December 20, 2010

Dust Devil, by Anne Isaacs and Paul O. Zelinsky - a rip-roaring ride! (ages 5 - 10)

Do you love reading outlandish tall tales with your child, seeing how preposterous they can get? Dust Devil, by the award winning Anne Isaacs and Paul O. Zelinsky, will delight you again and again, and would make a perfect gift for any horse-loving, outdoor-loving, laughter-loving kid. Pair it with a model Breyer horse and a western saddle, and you have a great match.
Dust Devil
by Anne Isaacs
illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
NY: Schwartz and Wade Books, 2010
ages 5 - 10
available on Amazon and at your local library
Angelica Longrider is hero who would give Paul Bunyan a run for his money. She's moved to Montana, a place wide open and perfect, after taming the marauding bear Thundering Tarnation in Isaac and Zelinsky's wonderful book Swamp Angel. Montana is flat as a pancake, with soil so rich that if you plant a seed before breakfast it will reach the sky by lunchtime. But Angel can't find a horse large enough for her to ride. When a dust storm covers Montana and rips the roof off of Angel's barn sucking up the oats, apples and hay, Angel leaps up into the storm and rides that bucking bronco until the dust washes away and reveals the perfect horse for Angel.

Isaac's language is a joy to read aloud, in your best Western accent. Here's Angel hollering at the dust storm:
"'Dust devil, it's time to quit horsing around!' she hollered, and without another word she sprang right onto the back of the whirlwind. The storm roared and bellowed, tossing buckets, goats and pitchforks in every direction, and tried to throw Angel off. Up into the sky she rode that bucking blast, latching on for all she was worth."

Angel is a hero perfect to inspire any young girl that she can wrestle any bad guy out there, and do any job she wants to. No sooner than she finds a worthy horse, Angel sets out to rid Montana of the worst vermin to ride the land: Backward Bart and his Flying Desperadoes. Although the sheriff tells her that only men can serve as deputies, Angel shows that she has the wits and the strength to put Bart and the Desperadoes in jail better than the sheriff's deputies.

Zelinsky's art matches Isaac's language perfectly, combining humor, outlandish size, and small details. Like Swamp Angel, Zelinsky painted Dust Devil directly onto wood veneer. Publisher's Weekly describes the long process Zelinsky went through to bring this to life. Take a look at the artwork and get a sense of the story in this book trailer from Random House:

Dust Devil has received praise from many quarters: The New York Times, Fuse #8, Kids Lit, and starred reviews from many journals.

Breyer My Favorite Horse - Baxter (Morgan)As a child, I loved playing with model horses. Breyer horses are classic, and the Baxter Morgan horse matches Dust Devil perfectly. Add a Western roping saddle, and you have a great gift for any horse-loving child.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, and then I purchased an additional copy for our home library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small percentage will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support!

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