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Friday, November 21, 2014

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2014. $12.99 ages 6 and up

"And finally, Leroy spoke. He opened his mouth and said the sweetest words he could think of. He said, "You are the most beautified horse in the whole wide green world." The horse pricked up her ears. She twitched the left ear to the right and the right ear to the left. Both ears quivered hopefully. Emboldened, Leroy Ninker leaned forward and spoke directly into the right ear."

Lucky we are that Kate DiCamillo is a pretty prolific and astonishingly accomplished writer! She has written some of my very favorite books...many hold pride of place on my 'keeper' shelf. They are books I have gone back to read again, and that I will surely read to my granddaughter in the future.

In this debut to a brand new series, she introduces us to Leroy Ninker and his friends. Leroy has only one dream: he wants to be a cowboy. He wants to be just like the ones in the movies shown at the drive-in theater where he works.  He wants the whole nine yards:

"The cowboys wore ten-gallon hats. They wore boots. They carried lassos. The cowboys were men who cast long shadows and knew how to fight injustice. They were men who were never, ever afraid."

It is only when his friend Beatrice mentions it that Leroy realizes he is missing one essential component of a cowboy's staples. He needs a horse, and Beatrice has the solution to his problem. She reads an ad from the newspaper, and Leroy is off!

Once he sets eyes on Maybelline, he knows that he has met a soul mate. Her owner does offer advice: Maybelline is a horse who 'enjoys the heck out of a compliment', who 'eats A. Lot. Of. Grub', and who 'gets lonesome quick.' She is adamant that Leroy remember these things. I bet you know what's coming!

Once home, they learn that Maybelline will not fit through Leroy's apartment door. Never fear, Leroy
has the situation in hand. He does everything he can  do to assure his companion's  contentment. When a problem does arise, Maybelline does what she does when lonely ... she runs. It's up to Leroy to find her.

If you know Mercy Watson, you may remember meeting Leroy in one of her popular adventures, It will then be no real surprise to learn that Maybelline is attracted to a smell that leads her to Deckawoo Drive, and eventually to Mrs. Watson and her pleasant nature and her welcome home kitchen. How lucky are these friends to have each other!

Winning characters, witty wordplay, and terrific illustrations that add even more humor and heart to this new series make it perfect to read aloud. Your listeners will be thrilled to hear Kate DiCamillo's 
story of an aspiring cowpoke and his constant companion.  Yippee-yee-hah!

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