by Len Bailey

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Clabbernappers is thrilling high comic adventure from a remarkable new writer.

King Krystal of Elidor has a serious problem: Sarksa Pirates have captured the Queen! Desperate for her return, King Krystal summons a hero from the Dream Machine. Enter Danny Ray, the best dang rodeo cowboy in Oklahoma. The only problem? He's only an eleven-year-old boy--not quite the hero the Elidorians expected.
But Danny Ray aims to prove them wrong by recapturing the Queen. How? Truth is, Danny Ray isn't quite sure. Luckily he will have lots of help from friends like Captain Quigglewigg, the Sultana, Lord Yellow, Princess Eliana and--of course--the Clabbernappers.

On his breathtaking adventure across the Checkered Sea, Danny will encounter lots of exotic creatures, including Coal Trolls, Gimmion Gott, the Potter Wasp, the Red Bats, Tantarrabobs and the Ghost of Buckholly Harbor. His battles will pit him against the Sarska Pirates, the Nightmare Queen...and the evil King Dru-Mordeloch.

"Bailey's rousing adventure, first in a planned series, will appeal to young chess lovers and pirate fans alike." - Booklist

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429983617
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 02/01/2005
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
File size: 786 KB
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Len Bailey is a voice-over actor and sometime bagpipe player. He lives "quietly" with his wife and three boys in the western suburbs of Chicago. Clabbernappers is his first book.

Len Bailey, author of Clabbersnappers and Fantasms, is a professional radio commercial and voice-over actor and bagpipe player. He attended high school in Tahelequah, Oklahoma; college at Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois, where he earned a B.A. in history. He also earned a journalism scholarship and was a member of the 1974 NCAA National Champion soccer team. A sometimes golfer who admits his best “wood” is his pencil, Len enjoys serenading the neighborhood with his bagpipe playing. He lives “quietly” with his wife and three sons in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Read an Excerpt


The Mumpokers


A dart flashed in the sunlight and popped a red balloon. The young cowboy raised his fists in the air. His sparkling blue eyes squinted as he laughed and let out a shout. The boys and girls in line behind him hooted and hollered, the passersby at the Cherokee County Fair Grounds looking over with questioning glances.

"Seven balloons in a row!" said the proprietor behind the counter. "That ain't never been done — not while I been here!"

"What's my prize?" asked the cowboy, his red-and-yellow-striped shirtsleeves crossing. "Can I have that there stuffed red lizard?"

"Nope. That's a grand prize," said the man, shaking his head. He wore a Harley-Davidson vest and black T-shirt, and black gloves with the fingers cut off. "You gotta pop ten balloons in a row."

"Gimme some more darts!" said the cowboy, reaching in his pocket and putting down his last quarter.

"I'll bet you can do it!" chuckled the man, handing him three more darts. His gray eyes fastened on the cowboy's large ornate belt buckle, which sparkled in the sunlight. "Champion calf roper, are you?"

"Bull rider!" said the cowboy proudly, pointing out the figure of a man on the back of a bucking bull. "But I'm still pretty good with a rope."

"Bet you are!" The man twirled his black beard around his finger. "I'll bet you could do darn near anything you set your mind to. What's your name, cowboy?"

"Danny Ray," he replied, fixing his stance and raising one of the darts.

But then the proprietor leaned over the counter and lowered his voice. "I got something a lot more exciting than that there red lizard." He motioned with his head to the side. "Yonder's a door you could walk through if you had a mind to it."

Danny Ray's blue eyes opened wide. His dart wavered, then lowered to the counter. Sure enough, there stood an open doorway with lightning flashing over its surface. Over the top was written this word: ADVENTURE.

"I ain't offered that to no one else before," said the proprietor.

Danny Ray glanced at the red lizard and then back to the doorway and asked, "What kind of ride is that? Looks mighty dangerous, with that lightning and all."

"Aw, that's just for show," the man said, waving his hand. "Of course, who knows what adventure's on the other side? Could be way too dangerous — even for a sharp young feller like you."

The cowboy licked the corner of his mouth and tasted a trace of cotton candy. He'd never met up with a challenge that he couldn't tackle.

"Just walk through that doorway, huh?" he asked.

"Yup," said the man. "Look. I'll send along a friend with you, a dazzling feller, to help you out of real hard scrapes, OK?"

Danny Ray looked around. "Where's he at?"

"You'll know 'im when you see 'im."

"Hmmm." Danny Ray hitched up his pants. They didn't really need hitching up, but it was a clear signal that he was considering undertaking an undertaking.

The proprietor ushered him around the counter and stood him in front of the doorway. Its shiny surface undulated like water. Now and then a bolt of lightning streaked across its surface.

"Hmmm," said the cowboy again.

He glanced back at the man, framed by the colorful hustle and bustle of the fair: flapping flags atop canopies, whirling whirligig rides against the backdrop of a pale blue sky, and the slow, ponderous turning of an immense white Ferris wheel.

"Guess I won't be needin' that lizard after all," said the cowboy.

"Here's your money back," the man said, handing him the quarter.

Danny Ray touched the rim of his hat in a polite gesture and then stepped through the doorway.

* * *

"Yeeeeee-hah!" yelled the cowboy as his feet went out from under him. He hung on to his hat as he fell into a lightning storm. Upside down he turned, or else his down side up was turned up side around, flopped over, and spun back down around again. It was like riding the fiercest, wildest bull ever, or else straddling the dark demon of a tornado. His leather chaps flapped wildly in the wind, and his spurs spun and sang! The wind blew his cheeks open as he dropped down into pitch blackness, like the open drain in a big bathtub.

The wind stopped.

The darkness lightened and Danny Ray felt the bottom of his boots come to rest against something solid. He found that he could stand, but he had to shield his eyes against a sudden bright light.

"Where the heck am I?" he muttered as a high rock wall and an ornate gate materialized.

The magic doorway had disappeared.

Nearby stood a line of statues of huge winged monsters, sparkling pink and red, each fashioned from a single gem. They lined a white-brick walkway leading to a vast palace in the distance, shining with crystal battlements.

"Wow!" he exclaimed, putting his hands on his hips. He felt something on his belt — a shiny, bright blue coil of rope. Mysteriously, his rapidly beating heart was calmed as he stroked the smoothness of it. So — this was his dazzling companion!

Something circled overhead, a tiny dragon no bigger than a sparrow, the same light blue color as the sky. It peered down upon him with red-jeweled eyes, and then shot away toward the palace.

Danny Ray saw a black centipede winding its way from the palace through the garden and along the walkway. As it got closer, the cowboy heard voices and could make out that the centipede was actually a line of small soldiers about two feet tall. Each of them was armored and helmeted in black and carrying a long black lance tipped with a sharp claw.

Shoot! Where could he hide? Behind him, towering above the wall and the trees beyond, a mountain range reached up to a terrible height. Danny Ray pushed against the gate's thick black bars, but it wouldn't budge.

"Some help you are!" he muttered, looking down at his rope.

Too late! The soldiers hustled quickly to surround him, lowering their sharp lances to almost touch him. The cowboy felt like the hub in the middle of a wagon wheel.

"Who the heck are you guys?" asked Danny Ray.

One of them stepped forward — presumably their captain, since he was wearing a badge. "We are the mumpokers!" he croaked. "The palace guards!" His glittering yellow eyes peered out from a kettle-like helmet pulled too far down on his brow. "We're taking you to stand before His Majesty King Krystal himself! Get going! No tricks!"

As they marched the cowboy toward the palace, now and then prodding him along with the points of their lances, the mumpokers chanted this song:

"Mum's the word!
Mum's the word!
Off to the side Danny Ray saw an avenue bordered by a row of black skyscrapers on one side and a row of white ones on the other. But wait! They weren't buildings — they were chess pieces!

"Wow!" muttered Danny Ray. "That's the largest chess set I've ever seen — ouch!" Danny Ray felt a jolt of pain as one of the mumpokers jabbed him in the rear end with his lance.

"Quiet!" said the captain, leveling a black-gloved finger at the cowboy. "Get marching!"

They arrived at the palace, and its immense pearl-white doors opened. As Danny Ray was poked for the one hundredth time and he yelled "Ouch!" for the one hundredth time, it came to him that a red lizard didn't seem so bad a prize after all.


The Dream Engine

"The queen was kidnapped last night!" whispered Lord Yellow, tugging at King Krystal's shimmering white robe. "What if we're next? We should run away!"

But the old king, crowned in crystal and with eyes as clear as glass, frowned at him.

Lord Red, a short, barrel-chested man standing to the other side of King Krystal, bellowed, "Then run away, you soft-bellied, mealymouthed, slack-jawed, knock-kneed, teeth-chattering coward!"

Fire crackled from Lord Red's nostrils, but then he accepted a sparkling glass of cold cherrymaine from a passing servant resplendently dressed in white and gold silk and delicately balancing a silver tray. The servant disappeared into the humming crowd of great lords and ladies dancing to the accompaniment of harps and pipes, violins and cellos, tambourines, and the gentle tinkling of crystal glasses.

Lord Green sniffed, catching the scent of lavender swirling through the hall. He craned his skinny neck, like an ostrich, and leaned close to the king. "O King Krystal, most excellent ruler of Cherrydale, of Birdwhistle Bay, of Ironwood, and of all Elidor. Listen to my advice: We must pay whatever ransom is demanded for her!"

Lord Green felt a prickly pressure against his stomach and looked down at the prince, dressed in a black-and-white polka-dot robe, pressing the point of a sharp sword against him. "Then what about my treasure room filled with candy? What about my toys? What about my sword lessons? What about my —"

"What about putting your sword away, you little brat!"

"Curb your tongue, Lord Green!" cautioned King Krystal, reaching down and petting the prince's sprig of red hair. "You know how sensitive and sickly the lad is!"

"Sensitive, Your Majesty?" said Lord Red. "This same prince who glued my sword inside its scabbard?"

"Who poured punch into my violin?" said Lord Green with a frown.

"Who placed a blood buzzard's head inside my wife's wedding bouquet?" said Lord Yellow.

The prince screwed up his freckled face, smiled a wicked smile, and then grabbed a knuckleberry pastry off a nearby tray. He took a huge mouthful and began making an awful smacking noise.

Flip! Flip! Flip! In through the window flew the little dragon, circling over the surprised crowd and coming to rest on the king's outstretched arm. Instantly, its leathery hide turned snowy white to match the color of the king's robe.

Lord Red's glass of cherrymaine paused halfway to his lips, and the prince crossed his arms and frowned. Lord Yellow let out a panicked howl.

"Ah, little gossip!" said King Krystal pleasantly. "What news, Scragtail?"

"Y'Majesty!" replied the gossip in a high-pitched croaking voice. "Has there happened something terrible — or something wonderful!"

"Catch your breath!" King Krystal stroked Scragtail under the chin with a curled forefinger. A low humming emitted from its open mouth, and its barbed tail rose and fell. "Stop your huffing and puffing and chuffing!"

"Has fluttered down into the main courtyard a shimmering square, like a giant blue leaf!" The gossip rolled its ruby-red eyes. "Wavers like a mermaid's hair, does it, with lightning streaked. Like a door is it!"

"A door?" questioned Lord Red.

"A door," said Lord Green evenly.

"A door!" gulped Lord Yellow nervously.

The hall buzzed with excited conversation.

"Peace! Everyone be still!" cried King Krystal, raising his hands. Scragtail flitted up and perched on his shoulder. All eyes fastened on the king.

"Last night I had a hopeful dream, a dream too good to believe. The heavens opened and a great and fuming engine spewed forth swirling darkness, lightning, gloom and storm! The dim figure of a hero stepped forth to rescue my queen!"

"Y'Majesty, pardons," the gossip said in a cautious tone, "is no engine, this door: no gears, no pulleys, no triggers or reels; no flasks, no tubes, no levers or wheels. Has appeared through this doorway a stranger! Have him in custody the mumpokers do!"

"Let us meet our hero!" announced the king.

"What if he's not our hero?" gasped Lord Yellow. "What if he kidnapped the queen? What if he threatens us?"

The doors to the hall flew open. With many a Ho! and Watch out!, the crowd of lords and ladies scattered to either side. The musicians dragged their cumbersome instruments out of harm's way with a horrible clatter. The marble floor was strewn with napkins, food scraps, and an orphaned shoe here and there left behind by one of the panicked people.

In strode the mumpokers bearing their long black lances, waddling toward the raised throne where the king waited. In their midst walked the mysterious visitor from the Dream Engine, who yelped "Ouch!" as one of the mumpokers jabbed him in the rear end with his lance.

"It's a monster!" cried Lord Yellow, covering his mouth.

"A strangely dressed monster," said Lord Green, resting his delicate opera glasses upon his nose.

Lord Red furrowed his brow. "A monster a full head taller than myself — no funny comments, Prince!"

The creature was about five feet tall, rather rough in appearance — but nicely groomed for a monster, with chestnut curls lying neatly on his shoulders. He studied the people with intelligent blue eyes, looking them up and down as they were looking back and studying him. He wore a tight black leather coat with no arms; the arms had evidently been torn off and sewn on the outside of his leggings, waving noiselessly as he walked. Atop his head he wore a black hat with two wings curled up on either side. His belt was adorned with silver disks, with an even larger silver medallion in front, while a coil of glowing blue rope dangled from the side of his belt and slapped against his thigh. His pointed black boots jingled like bells as he walked.

They halted at the bottom of the stairs. Lord Yellow scampered behind Lord Green, who grew quite perturbed and turned this way and that, trying to shoo him away.

The captain of the mumpokers stomped forward in his large boots and, with a great elaborate flourish, bowed ridiculously low before the king. "Your Majesty!" he said.

"See the fellow standing there Worn and torn with wear and tear!
Through a flashing door up there Strangers, dangers everywhere!
"Thank you, Captain," said the king, looking at the stranger suspiciously. The mumpokers turned and marched in orderly fashion out of the hall, mumbling and grumbling their poking song.

The king, his silver cane in hand, gingerly picked his way down to the foot of the stairs. Scragtail fluttered its white, leathery wings at each step.

"Welcome to the kingdom of Elidor!" he said. "I am King Krystal." After a few moments of curious silence, during which the king had expected a response, he peered out from beneath his bushy white eyebrows and added, "And yours?"

"The name's Danny Ray, sir!" exclaimed the creature. His yellow-and-red striped shirtsleeve rose in the air as he touched the rim of his hat. "And I'm the best dang rodeo cowboy in Oklahoma."


Princess Amber

"Where are you from, lad?" asked King Krystal.

"Muskogee, Oklahoma, sir," replied Danny Ray. "Well, not exactly — I'm really from Tahlequah, but most folks don't know where Tahlequah is, so I just say I'm from Muskogee." He pushed his hat back off his fore-head. "But I am the best rodeo cowboy in Oklahoma — Junior Division, of course."

"Of course." The king could not hide his astonishment. "Danny Ray, the situation here in Elidor is very serious. Last night, some thieving thieves kidnapped my queen! She must be rescued and returned to me!"

"Just point me in the right direction and I'll head on out!" said the cowboy.

"But, Danny Ray." The king frowned. "Is there anyone else coming to help you ... help us?"

Scragtail imitated the king's expression and grimaced at the cowboy.

"Shoot! I'm all the hero you need for rescuing your queen, sir!" chuckled Danny Ray.

"Many pardons, young man," said Lord Green, sticking his head forward like a snake, "but what exactly is a rodeo cowboy?"

"Well, you sit yourself down on the back of one of the meanest, stinkiest, ugliest, orneriest bulls you ever saw. You bust out of the pen like gangbusters and ride 'im for six seconds, jump off, and then run for your life!"

"This adventure is not some frolicking, joy-filled six seconds' worth of fun!" scoffed Lord Yellow.

"And look at all that flapping leather!" laughed the prince, pointing at the cowboy's chaps. "You can't be a hero without a big silver sword and a shield!"

A squat, red-faced man with a curling black mustachio stepped forward. "I am Lord Red!" His crimson robes were intricately sewn with hearts and butterflies and studded with diamonds.

"My pleasure." Danny Ray touched the rim of his hat again.

"Well, it won't be your pleasure when you hear what I have to say!" Lord Red, his mustachio slanting sideways in a sneer, took a deep breath. "I'm sure this rodeo-champion thing is a formidable honor, but fearful and treacherous monsters await you outside Elidor!"

"Yes!" said the prince, pointing a sugar-coated finger at the cowboy. "Such as bollhockers that suck out your brains through your nose! There are changelings; devils; muddle-bunks; blubberthroats; dark elves; fays; pucks; skull-mungers; wug-muffins; satyrs; mal-gooligan-hooligans; tinglehoofs; and tittlewhumps!"

Lord Green flicked his tongue and continued: "There are red throats; coaltrolls; hellwains; black thieves; castleraggs; shokkel-clays; swaithes; padi-foots; fiends; ghouls; trows and kongltrows; centaurs; gargoyles; hobhoulards; boggles; dudmen; and the dreaded Sarksa pirates!"


Excerpted from "Clabbernappers"
by .
Copyright © 2005 Len Bailey.
Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1. The Mumpokers,
2. The Dream Engine,
3. Princess Amber,
4. The Checkered Sea,
5. Tantarrabobs,
6. Captain Quigglewigg,
7. The Sarksa Pirates,
8. The Cannon Arlette,
9. The Attack of Vulture,
10. A Most Secret Ship,
11. Gimmion Gott,
12. The Sultana Sumferi Sar,
13. Clabbernappers!,
14. A Foggy Departure,
15. Captured!,
16. The Potter Wasp,
17. The Red Bats,
18. Blackguard Mutiny,
19. The Ghost of Buckholly Harbor,
20. Her Majesty, the Queen!,
21. At the End of Your Rope,
22. Breaking and Entering,
23. Checkmate,
24. Fight to the Death!,
25. A Homecoming,
26. Fare You Well,

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