THE TERRIBLE HODAG by Caroline Arnold


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In a Paul Bunyan-related tall tale, the spindly boss-man proves to be more of a threat to the north woods lumberjacks than the fabled Hodag: he requires completion of a Herculean task--cutting every tree on a certain hillside--or Ole Swenson and his men won't be paid on Friday. To complicate the problem, the men can't work at night because they fear the Hodag. Ole, however, happens to encounter the Hodag; and though he is a fearsome 40 feet tall, ""with red eyes, the head of an ox, the feet of a bear, the back of a dinosaur, and the tail of an alligator,"" he proves to have a mild disposition and helps Ole by knocking the trees down with his tail. But the selfish boss-man is without honor; after he reneges twice on his promise to pay, the Hodag chases him away, permanently, leaving the men to ""cut only the trees we need, and. . .always be sure to leave part of the forest for the Hodag."" Davis matches the 30's protest flavor of the story with sturdy illustrations that recall the art of that period, while celebrating the beauty of what looks like a redwood forest and creating a marvelous beast--at once baleful and benign. A good addition to tall-tale collections.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1989
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich