Cindy: You know a story that begins in October on Friday the 13th is sure to be spooky and Ol’ Clip-Clop: A Ghost Story (Holiday House 2013) does not disappoint. John Leep had a stingy heart and no one among the three hundred people in Grass Hallow considered him a friend, least of which the widow Mayes who John planned to evict. This guy makes the Grinch look charitable…Leep plans to evict the woman at night! As he mounts his horse and starts clip-clopping away he hears another set of hooves on the cobblestones but sees no one there. The tension mounts as darkness falls and the mysterious sounds follow John on his journey to the widow’s house. John Leep’s true nasty colors are seen in the glow of lamplight when he reaches the house and deceives the widow who was prepared to pay her rent. The rest of the story will have your heart clip-clopping as fast as John Leep’s horse…and end’s with one of the scariest final page turns in picture book history. My heart is still going. Patricia McKissack is no stranger to engaging storytelling and this outing maintains her fine tradition.
Lynn: Oh what a perfect Halloween read aloud this is! The story is really creepy with wonderful shivery sound effects to heighten the tension. Then there are Eric Velasquez’s dark atmospheric illustrations. First he uses a dark palette with a dark grey or black background. Reader’s eyes are drawn to the faces on each page as the light highlights the features. The perspectives are great too, sometimes looking up at the mounted horseman, sometimes down at the poor widow literally on her knees and then that terrific last page where the focus comes slightly from above. This would be best with a 1st-3rd grade audience so lower the lights, hush your voice and prepare to SCARE!