cover image Leroy Ninker Saddles Up

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up

Kate DiCamillo, illus. by Chris Van Dusen. Candlewick, $12.99 (96p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6339-1

Leroy Ninker, the diminutive aspiring cowboy last seen trying to steal a toaster from the Watson household in Mercy Watson Fights Crime (2006), gets his own starring vehicle in this kickoff to a spinoff series, Tales from Deckawoo Drive, featuring characters from DiCamillo’s books about the toast-loving pig Mercy. His thieving days behind him, Leroy works concessions at the Bijou Drive-In Theater and wishes he could ride into the sunset like the cowboys in Wednesday night’s Western double feature. Leroy’s boots, hat, and lasso can only take him so far—he needs a horse. His coworker Beatrice points him in the right direction, and Leroy finds his steed in a well-traveled horse named Maybelline. DiCamillo effortlessly slips back into the comfortable rhythms of Mercy’s world, infusing every chapter with subdued wit, warmth, and heart. Van Dusen matches the text stride-for-stride, delivering caricatured spot art and full-page scenes of the Pinocchioesque Leroy and the four-toothed, spaghetti-loving Maybelline, who Leroy comes to consider “the most splendiferous horse in all of creation.” Ages 6–9. Author’s agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.)