Ol' Clip-Clop: A Ghost Story

Overview

Mounting his horse, cold-hearted John Leep smiles as he anticipates evicting the widow Mayes for nonpayment of rent. When she comes up with the rent after all, Leep, unwilling to be disappointed, knocks her coins to the floor and hides on of them in his boot. The widow is evicted; but as he departs, Leep is pursued by an unseen stalker.

As Leep rides faster, so does his pursuer—clippity-cloppity, clippity-cloppity—until Leep reaches his home. ...

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Overview

Mounting his horse, cold-hearted John Leep smiles as he anticipates evicting the widow Mayes for nonpayment of rent. When she comes up with the rent after all, Leep, unwilling to be disappointed, knocks her coins to the floor and hides on of them in his boot. The widow is evicted; but as he departs, Leep is pursued by an unseen stalker.

As Leep rides faster, so does his pursuer—clippity-cloppity, clippity-cloppity—until Leep reaches his home. Is John Leep safe at last or is Ol' Clip-Clop gonna SWALLOW HIM WHOLE?!!!!!

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
This scary but satisfying story takes place in 1741, on Friday the thirteenth of October. Mean, stingy John Leep closes his office early. He is eager to evict the widow Mayes, to help set an example for his other tenants. As he sets off in the dark on his horse Major, he hears the "clip-clop" of another horse. But he can see no one there. When he arrives, the widow offers him the money she owes, which does not please him. So he drops the money and secretes a coin in his boot. He then tells her that the money is not all there; she can stay the night but must be out by morning. His ride home in the dark with the wind howling brings the story to an exciting end. All at night, Velasquez's double-page scenes are appropriately dark; horse and rider emerge almost mysteriously from village streets. Mixed media and oil successfully produce a naturalistic menacing villain, his horse, and the village setting. Effective use is made of moonlight and lanterns creating shadows. The exciting text is enhanced by the visual menace of the spooky tale. Exactly what happened to Leep and whether there was a ghost is left for the reader to decide. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
09/01/2013
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
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823431861
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/1/2014
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 556,809
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years

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