Monday, October 6, 2014

Mr. Pig LIVE with Leroy Ninker!

Howdy, cowpokes! Welcome to another edition of my hit talk show. . .

. . . where we bring you in-depth, exciting interviews with characters from your favorite children's books. Today we have a very special guest!

Please give a warm yippie-i-oh to LEROY NINKER, star of the latest collaboration from two-time Newbery medal winner Kate DiCamillo and award-winning illustrator Chris Van Dusen: Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, Tales from Deckawoo Drive (Volume One).


Let's get started. Or as they say on the range, giddy up!

What is your full name?
Leroy Sassafras Ninker

What one word best describes you? 

Naturally. Do you have a belly button? 
Dag flibber it. Let me check . . . I do.

What is the best thing about being you?
Having a horse named Maybelline.

From LEROY NINKER SADDLES UP. Illustration (c) 2014 by Chris Van Dusen.

What is the worst thing about being you?
Being Maybelline-less in the time before Maybelline arrived. I was not my best self until she came along.

I feel that way about the Cottagers. If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you bring?
Maybelline. And also spaghetti.

Describe your perfect day.
Riding on the open plains with my horse. Or riding on the sidewalks, that is good, too. Yippie-i-oh.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I have a super-power. I have a horse.

Indeed. What are you reading right now?
Love Poems.

Didn't see that coming. What is your favorite word?

Do you have a least favorite word?

From LEROY NINKER SADDLES UP. Illustration (c) 2014 by Chris Van Dusen.

What is your favorite sound?
A whinny. 

Please share one thing that most of our readers don’t know about you.
I like ketchup.

Speaking of condiments, if you could dine with three characters from other books, who would they be? 
Winnie-the-Pooh, Paddington, and one of those tiny little Borrowers.

Paddington has been to the Cottage for tea. Lovely fellow. Very busy now, though, promoting his new film. Where was I? Ah, yes . . . if a genie gave you one wish, what would you wish for?
I already have it.

If you have a pocket, what is in it right now?
A cat's eye marble. It is very pretty when you hold it up to the light.

From LEROY NINKER SADDLES UP. Illustration (c) 2014 by Chris Van Dusen.

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

Toast. With a great deal of butter. At the Watson’s house.

What is your most embarrassing moment?
Getting captured by a pig.

Well, I'm sure it was a misunderstanding. What is your pet peeve?
Popcorn without butter. It’s wrong.

Agreed. Tell us, what was it like working with Kate? 
She is not much taller than me, so it was good.

Thank you, Leroy! It's been a pleasure. We look forward to reading many more tales from Deckawoo Drive. And please stick around after the show. Our fabulous chef Nina, from Mamabelly's Lunches with Love, has rustled up a mighty delicious Literary Lunch for us today. She even packed carrots for Maybelline! Scroll down for a peek.

Oh! And before we go, I'd like to remind our viewers about tomorrow's special Cottage event! It's a birthday party! A book birthday for Garth Stein's Enzo Races in The Rain written with Zoë B. Alley and R.W. Alley and illustrated by R.W. Alley. You should come, Leroy. The Alleys are well acquainted with Paddington Bear. I'm sure they wouldn't mind introducing you.

Well, that's all the time we have folks. Nina's here with lunch. Yippie-i-oh! Thanks for tuning in!


Kate DiCamillo is the author of many books for young readers. Her books have been awarded the Newbery Medal (Flora and Ulysses, 2014; The Tale of Despereaux, 2004); the Newbery Honor (Because of Winn-Dixie, 2001), the Boston Globe Horn Book Award (The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, 2006), and the Theodor Geisel Medal and honor (Bink and Gollie, co-author Alison McGhee, 2011; Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride, 2007). She is the current National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, appointed by the Library of Congress.

A native of Florida, Kate now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up
by Kate DiCamillo; illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Candlewick Press, August 2014
Early chapter book, ISBN 978-0763663391

Yippie-i-oh! Saddle up for the first in a spin-off series starring favorite characters from Kate DiCamillo's New York Times best-selling Mercy Watson books.

"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.'"—Publishers Weekly

"DiCamillo’s quirky, eccentric characters speak in flowery sentiments and employ charming wordplay. Along with Van Dusen’s well-matched illustrations, there’s a sweet, retro innocence reminiscent of McCloskey’s classic "Homer Price." Despite the old-fashioned accent, the absurdities will easily appeal to a modern audience. Filled with love and kindness and glorious sweet-talk: 'Yippee-i-oh.'" —Kirkus Reviews

"Fans of Mercy Watson will delight in meeting Maybelline, a horse who loves to hear the melody of pretty words, likes the company of others, and enjoys spaghetti noodles. ... Van Dusen’s black-and-white cartoon pictures provide a lighthearted humor that makes the book a good choice for transitioning readers. Character driven, this fast-paced story is sure to please. A fun new edition to the cast and crew of "Mercy Watson." —School Library Journal

"DiCamillo’s use of inventive and colorful language and Van Dusen’s stylized gouache illustrations make this story click; give this to graduates of the earlier series looking for a bit more of a challenge."—Booklist

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