Mercy Watson arrived in our family via my now 8th grade daughter. She was in 1st grade when she discovered the humorous porcine wonder at a book fair. There were only 3 Mercy Watson tales back then, but she devoured them with gusto. Needless to say, Mercy Watson entered my youngest son's life much earlier; one of the benefits of being the youngest sibling. He's heard Mercy Watson stories via audiobook or older siblings reading to him since he was a toddler.
When I first showed him the ARC copy of Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, he didn't immediately make the connection. Once I informed him of the Mercy Watson connection, he gobbled up Leroy Ninker in one evening growing giddy at the sight of his beloved Mercy who makes a guest appearance.
As spin-offs go, the Deckawoo Drive characters have great promise. Under DiCamillo's skilled pen, Leroy Ninker develops a full-fledged personality, a maybe a bit of a mid-life crisis. Leroy Ninker decides that there must be more to life than working at the Bijou Drive-In Theater. He concludes that he is destined for greatness as a cowboy, and along with his hat, lasso, and boots, he works to acquire a horse, the inimitable, and highly sensitive, Maybelline. As always, DiCamillo uses fantastic vocabulary. (In what other early reader chapter book might you find both splendiferous and cogitate within pages of one another.) And Chris Van Dusen's sharp, humorous, and ever expressive illustrations are the perfect compliment to DiCamillo's storytelling.
Yippie-i-oh! We have a winner from Deckawoo Drive! Leroy Ninker Saddles Up hits bookstores tomorrow.