Saturday, October 25, 2014

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up (Tales from Deckawoo Drive #1) by Kate DiCamillo

Looney Tunes flickered on my family's old black and white TV every Saturday morning. Imagine five kids squished around the grainy 13 inch screen, heads bobbing in laughter at some cockamamie episode.  Leroy Ninker would have fit in well with the cast of Looney Tunes. Deluded like Daffy Duck but lacking a massive ego, Leroy is probably closest to Yosemite Sam but more the Yin to his Yang. Yosemite Sam was a macho, hotheaded Looney Tune bandit; whereas, Leroy is a reformed thief. He is bored working his job at a concession stand and is gonna git hisself a horse and become a cowboy. His favorite line is "yippie-i-oh" and his illiterative curses like "Dag blibbler it" or "Flibber gibber it" will lasso a smile from readers all around. A memorable character that would make a good read aloud for emerging readers.

Leroy was the thief in Mercy Watson's Fights Crime but his dream is to be a cowboy. He sets out to find a his horse that he'll name, Tornado. Leroy is no Zorro even if he wants to be. He ends up with Mabelline a four-toothed horse that seems more suited to Big Anthony in "Strega Nona," with her penchant for spaghetti. She'll only move if Leroy compliments her with oodles of sweet words. Leroy's syrupy compliments become more sincere at the end when it becomes obvious that he has come to love his toothless wonder.

The 90 page illustrated book is slightly harder than Mercy Watson with repetitive text and high vocabulary. DiCamillo sprinkles words throughout that is similar to the style found in "Bink & Gollie." I particularly like how she creates word-building or makes up words like "instinctuals." It's obvious she has a hankerin' for the written word that gives her stories a snappy rhythm with distinct characters.

The illustrations are rich sketches that capture the goofy Leroy's love for Maybelline. He's so worries when the storm scares her that he's tooling around town in his stocking feet because he forgot to shove his boots over his socks. He's got two buck teeth and pinnochio-like nose (after it shrunk when he quit lying). Leroy's ecstatic face at riding his newfound love Maybelline helps support the text that he has fallen for his old mare and truly cares for her. His most "splendiferous horse in all creation" he states. DiCamillo knows how to pack a six shooter as one heckuva writer. Giddyup and git this one!

5 Smileys

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