Sunday, December 7, 2014

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo

Sometimes technology is pretty cool. I was listening to a third grader read Mercy Watson Fights Crime and mentioned that Leroy Ninker, the book’s not-so-hardened criminal, was featured in a new book. “Really?” she asked, putting me on the spot. Hoping my memory was treating me kindly, I pulled out my phone and looked it up. Sure enough, there was Leroy Ninker Saddles Up. We put it in my shopping cart and placed the order.

“We should have it in about a week. I’ll bring it to you first.”

Her eyes lit up, she smiled, and I added another item to the list of why I love teaching.

Then she kept my book! I checked in with her each day to see how the reading was going (fine), was the story good (hilarious), did she finish (yep!), and can I get the book back now (umm…). She wasn’t going to give it back and kept it at home to make sure I couldn’t swipe it!

Do you need any more recommendation than that?

Okay, I think she was just messing with me, but had I said, “Ah, don’t worry about it. You can keep it,” she would NOT have said, “Oh, are you sure Mr. W? It really is your book.” It would have been more like, “Letmethinkaboutitokay.”

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up is Volume One of the new Tales from Deckawoo Drive series. The reading level is stepped up a bit from the original Mercy Watson books making it a great next step for Mercy Watson fans. But far be it from me to recommend a book strictly based on its reading level. Leroy Ninker, now gainfully employed in the concession stand at the local drive-in theater, loves the movies, especially Wednesday nights when the Bijou runs a Western double-feature. He dreams of being a real and true cowboy, but a coworker, Beatrice Leapaleoni, reminds Leroy that being a cowboy is more than a hat, boots, lasso, and tracking ability. What Leroy lacks is a horse.

Until Leroy finds Maybelline. “You are my horse,” says Leroy. “For me, you shine brighter than every star and every planet. You shine brighter than all the universe’s moons and suns. There are not enough yippie-i-ohs to describe you, Maybelline. I love you.” Leroy has a lot to learn about owning a horse, let alone being a cowboy, but his reformed heart is in the right place. Leroy’s affection only grows stronger after a storm separates him from Maybelline, but all is made right after a determined search and a visit to Deckawoo Drive (where toast with a great deal of butter on it and some familiar characters make an appearance).

If subsequent volumes in Kate DiCamillo’s new Tales from Deckawoo Drive series deliver like Leroy Ninker and Maybelline, even more readers will be saying, “Yippee-i-oh!”

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