Leroy Ninker Saddles Up: Tales from Deckawoo Drive, Volume One

Book review by
Sally Engelfried, Common Sense Media
Leroy Ninker Saddles Up: Tales from Deckawoo Drive, Volume One Book Poster Image
Silly cowboy adventure perfect for new chapter-book readers.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids may learn a bit about caring for a horse.

Positive Messages

Love is a powerful motivation that can overcome many difficulties. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Despite Maybelline's not being the most beautiful or young horse, Leroy is a loving and caring pet owner who will do anything to keep her happy. And, despite Leroy's not being the most practical or intelligent guy, Maybelline returns his love with all her heart.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Leroy Ninker Saddles Up is a fun and funny story about a man who dreams of being a cowboy and buys a horse and takes her home to his apartment. Anyone who's ever loved a pet will relate to Leroy's passion for Maybelline, "the most beautified horse in the whole wide green world." Leroy Ninker Saddles Up is the first in a new early-chapter book series by Newbery Award winner Kate DiCamillo, and readers of the Mercy Watson series will recognize Leroy and other characters. It's aimed at slightly older kids than the Mercy books, because it has more text and more pages, but a patient 5-year-old would be able to sit and listen to it being read aloud.

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What's the story?

Inspired by the Western movies he loves, Leroy Ninker buys Maybelline the horse. Though Maybelline is old and has only four teeth and Leroy has never ridden a horse in his life, it's mutual love at first sight. Instructed to give Maybelline lots of compliments, Leroy finds a poetical side of his nature he didn't know he possessed, and Maybelline thrives on his sweet talking. But when Leroy forgets that Maybelline hates being alone, disaster strikes: She runs away! In the middle of a horrible thunderstorm, Leroy must search high and low for his beloved horse.

Is it any good?

LEROY NINKER SADDLES UP features the same delightfully silly but sweet flavor as that in author Kate DiCamillo's Mercy Watson series, which takes place in the same town. The short, action-filled chapters with occasional illustrations make this a perfect book for early readers graduating to slightly longer chapter books. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how cowboy movies inspired Leroy to buy a horse. Has a movie or book ever inspired you to try something new? Did it live up to your expectations?

  • What do you like about reading funny stories like this one? Even though it isn't realistic, is there anything in it that seems real?

  • Did you enjoy seeing characters from the Mercy Watson series? Can you think of other books wherein characters make "guest appearances"?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love cowboys and horses

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