Wednesday, November 6, 2013
by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Eric Velasquez
Holiday House, 2013. Unpaged. Picture Book
"The year was 1741. The month was October. The day was Friday the thirteenth." Thus begins Patricia McKissack's story of John Peel, a mean-spirited, dark-hearted landlord who was unusually happy on this day because he was going to put the Widow Mayes out of her house for owing back rent. As he rode down the cobblestones to her house, the clip-clop of his horse's hooves was echoed by someone following behind. When he stopped, the other noise stopped. When he rode on, it began again. At the Widow Mayes' he is upset to discover she has the money to pay her rent, but he slips one of her coins into his boot so she will still come up short, then grudgingly gives her until the next morning to find the remaining money. As he started home again, he heard harsh laughter on the wind, and then the clippity-clopping begans in earnest. At home he quickly crawls into bed, happy to be safe . . . but he is never seen again. Maybe he moved away and changed his ways--or maybe . . . . The last page of this incremental and fairly frightening picture book is scary, indeed! Maybe not the best choice for little, little readers, but a perfect chill for those tougher, older kids who always ask for something really scary. Eric Velasquez's dark and moody drawings are a perfect expression of this book's written word.