Booklist Reviews

In this familiar-feeling tale, a man is being trailed by some intangible force while riding his horse through a darkened autumn landscape in a small colonial town. Throughout the ride, the clippity-clop sounds of a horse's hooves seem to be pursing the man, yet nothing is there. The horseman, we learn, is so mean that he finds it pleasing that he is riding out to evict a poor widow from her home—which gives readers a good idea that this outing is not going to end well for the dastardly rider. The expert pacing, attention-grabbing sound effects make this a winner, not to mention an ending featuring the kind of quick revelation that will have your whole audience of kids screaming and your storyteller laughing. The realistic style and dark palette of the illustrations effectively convey the frights and further heighten the strong sense of the text's foreboding. The extreme darkness in many of the scenes, though adding to the creepiness, might present some challenges for large groups, so plan your (spooky) lighting accordingly. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

On October 13, 1741, heartless moneygrubber John Leep sets out to evict the Widow Mays. After being chased by a ghostly echo of horses' hooves, John arrives nastier than ever--he steals a coin from the widow's rent payment. Little does he know it's the last cruel deed he'll ever commit. The dark, muted shades of Velasquez's oil paintings enhance the hair-raising text.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews

On October 13, 1741, heartless moneygrubber John Leep sets out to evict the Widow Mayes from one of his properties. After being chased by a ghostly echo of horses' hooves, John arrives at the widow's front door visibly shaken and nastier than ever -- he steals a coin from her rent payment to ensure that she loses her home. Little does he know it's the last cruel deed he'll ever commit. The dark, muted shades of Velasquez's oil paintings enhance the hair-raising text. shara l. hardeson Copyright 2013 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

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) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Media Connection

A dark tale set in colonial times, this picture book chronicles stingy lawyer John Leep's last ride to collect rent from the widow Mayes, a ride that conveniently takes place on Friday the 13th. The illustrations set the mood perfectly. Dusk is settling in as Leep rides his horse over the cobblestone streets. Thinking he hears another rider, he stops to greet them but no one is there. This happens several times. By the time Leep arrives at the widow's, he's a nervous wreck but stays true to his hard heart by attempting to cheat the poor widow. As he leaves with the money, he thinks he hears laughter. Goading his horse to a gallop, he arrives home safely. He thinks he's just been hearing things, until readers learn that he's never heard from again. The illustration on the last page will have your students screaming; I guarantee it. Betsy Russell, Media Specialist, Bradley Elementary School, Columbia, South Carolina. RECOMMENDED Copyright 2012 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

In a ghostly story in the vein of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and A Christmas Carol, an 18th-century miser, John Leep, rides on horseback to evict a woman from her residence. But as darkness falls over the forest—exquisitely rendered in Velasquez's milky, naturalistic paintings—Leep hears the "Clip. Clop" of a ghostly rider behind him. After cruelly deceiving his desperate tenant ("You're short. This isn't everything you owe me!"), he journeys home, again pursued by the invisible horseman. Readers who crave truly scary stories won't be disappointed by the conclusion to this enigmatic tale—and a great many will jump out of their seats. Ages 6–9. (July)

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School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 2–5—John Leep, a miserly landlord living in 1741, gleefully sets out to evict his tenant, the widow Mayes. It is a cold, dark night, Friday the 13th even, but Leep will not wait until morning. He wants to set an example for all of his tenants-pay up or get out. As he travels by horseback to the house, he keeps hearing another rider behind him. The sound of horses' hooves is employed throughout the story to build anticipation and suspense. After deceiving the woman, he heads home, and the simple "clip clop" grows in speed and complexity until a breathless "clippitycloppityclippitycloppityclippitycloppity" puts Leep at his door. Dark, ominous images, rendered in mixed media and oil, suit the nighttime setting and reinforce the eerie, somber tone of the story. Leep looks like an ordinary man, not a stereotypical villain. His selfishness is conveyed through his sneering expression when widow Mayes begs for one more night in her home. Appropriately, he looks nervous during his frightening ride, but he never appears to think something could really hurt him-until the shocking conclusion. The twist at the end is scary and makes the book better suited to an elementary audience than a younger one. The tale is tailor-made for storytellers who want to actively engage their audiences.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

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