This splendid “jump story” is not for the faint of heart, but readers who relish edge-of-the-seat suspense done impeccably...

OL' CLIP-CLOP

A GHOST STORY

Storyteller McKissack crafts a spine-tingling tale set during colonial times about a greedy man who just may get the scare of his life.

The author captivates from the start. John Leep “had a mean streak in him that ran the length of his long, thin body. Wasn’t poverty that made him hard. He had plenty of money. But John Leep had a stingy heart.” So he sets off on his horse to evict the widow Mayes. As they travel, the horse’s hooves make a steady “clip-clop.” Periodically, Leep pauses, believing he hears another horse and rider following him. Velasquez wisely keeps the focus on John Leep’s face. As John goes further away from town, the scenes begin to envelop him in shadow. His arrogant countenance slowly transforms, first showing annoyance, then worry and then fear. He plays a trick to cheat the widow, but something is listening. On his ride home, he goes faster and faster, and the sounds of the mysterious rider keep pace, frenzied, onomatopoeic hoofbeats punctuating the text: “Clippitycloppityclippitycloppity….” He makes it home, but he is never seen again. Some say “Ol’ Clip-Clop… / …SWALLOWED HIM WHOLE!!!!!!!” And on the last, page, the illustrator paints a most horrifying specter poised to do just that.

This splendid “jump story” is not for the faint of heart, but readers who relish edge-of-the-seat suspense done impeccably will be well-satisfied. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2265-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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