by Len Bailey

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It's Danny Ray, "the best dang rodeo cowboy in Oklahoma," to the rescue once again. King Krystal of Elidor's beautiful daughter, Princess Amber, has been kidnapped by the evil Fantasms--monstrous beasts whose sole purpose is to rule the magical kingdom of Elidor and to spread sorrow and darkness throughout the land. But not if Danny Ray and his eccentric group of friends have anything to do with it! Imagine a world with seas of polished black and white marble squares sailed upon by immense chess pieces hundreds of feet high: rooks, bishops and queens powered by tiny furry Tantarrabobs and Zanoomies. Imagine this is the battleground where Danny Ray, Tuk (a hellwain devil), KarooKachoo (a dragonfly princess), Prince Blues, the Sultana Sumferi Sar, Captain Quigglewigg, Hoodie Crow and the White Lady must rescue Princess Amber and save the kingdom of Elidor from eternal darkness.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429950091
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 02/05/2008
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
File size: 570 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 was 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

Chapter One Cowboys and Clowns "You all right, cowboy?" said a light, musical voice. Danny Ray sat atop a cattle gate in his rodeo outfit: blue and white checkered shirt, black cowboy hat and matching leather chaps over his jeans. Even in the darkness of the hay shelter, his blue eyes shone brightly. "Howdy, Caroline!" he said happily, his face immediately brightening up, his heart fluttering like a jar full of butterflies as he looked down into the face of an angel. Caroline Robertson's shoulder-length hair was as yellow as the shiny sun, and her twinkling eyes matched the clear blue sky around that sun. Her fancy leather top sparkled with rhinestones. He took off his gloves and left them on the gate, climbing painfully down and respectfully taking off his hat. He tasted dusty grit between his teeth and said, "Well, I got thrown in the arena, but I'm all right!" "You want a second opinion?" she asked, smirking. "Hey, Caroline! Saw you at the opening ceremony riding with the flag--mighty fine you looked, too!" "Thanks, Danny." She smiled, noticing how he took in her glittering red cowboy hat, the only one of its kind at the rodeo. She raised her nose up in the air and turned her head sideways: Caroline Robertson was this year's rodeo queen. Danny Ray sure liked her, except for that perky thing she did with her nose when she knew someone was looking at her. "Hey! What d'ye say we go get a soda?" His head was swimming with the sweet scent of her perfume, overriding the rich, heady smell of alfalfa hay. "Maybe some other time, Danny," she said, hesitating, and placed her small white hand on his shoulder. A flush of red passed over her cheeks. "She's gonna get a soda with me," butted in a new voice. Here came Billy Whitehorse walking up, grinning like a possum eating a sweet potato. "After I ride Commodore, that is. He was my draw." Danny Ray just shrugged. "Real sorry you drew Tomahawk, Danny." But Billy Whitehorse didn't sound sorry. Instead, he spit on the ground and said, "Rode him last year and he slammed me into the panels pretty hard." Danny Ray didn't say anything. "Sure you're all right, dairy boy?" Billy laughed. It was more of a joke than a question. Billy prided himself on living on a real ranch, with horses and bulls, while Danny Ray worked a dairy farm. And Billy loved rubbing it in. "Say, dairy boy!" Billy said. "You should get them blotchy black-and-white chaps for sale in the front window of Jackson's Rodeo Store--they're made outta Holstein cowhide. Then you'd be a real cow boy--get it? Ha, ha! Perfect for a dairy milker boy like you! You'd look like one of them fire engine Dalmatian dogs! Never seen a dog ride a bull before! Ha, ha!" Billy snorted and Caroline tried not to smile at the ridiculous picture in her mind. Danny Ray was feeling pretty low. He reached up, grabbed his gloves, and plopped them together. Billy Whitehorse stopped smiling and stepped forward, his spurs jingling. The two boys were the same height, the front rim of Billy's white hat rasping against the front rim of Danny's black one. "I got your girl and next I'm gonna get your championship belt buckle." Billy's hands doubled up in fists. "Gonna try to stop me, dairy boy?" "I ain't gonna fight you, Billy," said Danny Ray. "You got something out for me. Don't know what, but that's your problem, not mine." "You're just chicken," Billy Whitehorse said as he cast an amused look over at Caroline. He came right up in Danny Ray's face, their noses just inches apart, and waved his elbows up and down clucking, Blaaaawk! Blaaaawk! Blaaaawk! "Danny Ray don't have to give you no excuses!" Leaning back against the shed was a rodeo clown with a painted face, bright red and white striped shirt, purple suspenders, and blue shorts. Yellow knee-length socks stood proudly above a pair of red sneakers. "He figures you can't ride old Commodore with a black eye and a fat lip!" Billy studied the clown a moment and then turned back to Danny Ray. "Nah, I don't think so. He's just chicken! Ain't that right, dairy boy?" The distant PA system announced the name of Bobby Lee Henderson, Danny Ray's brother. "Billy James Whitehorse!" Caroline stated, tugging at his hand. "Stop talking silly! It's almost time for your ride! Let's go!" Billy looked Danny Ray up and down one more time and, with mock respect, touched the front rim of his hat in farewell. "Danny," said Caroline apologetically, a strand of her blond hair straying to the corner of her mouth. "Maybe I'll see you later, huh?" "But probably not!" said Billy over his shoulder, laughing. He jerked Caroline around by the hand and led her away toward the arena. The rodeo clown sauntered over, sniffed with his painted red nose and sighed. "Bad day, eh, Danny Ray? Well, just goes to show: some days you're a cowboy, some day's you're a clown." "What d'ye mean by that?" Danny Ray frowned. "Oh," said the clown, "you'll understand someday. But hey! I'll bet ol' Billy Whitehorse gets thrown off in three seconds--get that nice white hat of his all covered with dirt and manure! Yessir! And then we'd have to call him Billy Brownhorse!" "I don't need your help," muttered Danny Ray. "I can take care of myself." "But you needed me in the arena a few minutes ago, huh?" replied the clown with a grin. His teeth looked yellow against his stark white face paint. Rodeo clowns commanded a whole lot of respect. Once a cowboy hit the ground, it was their job to run straight at the bull and wave their arms and legs to draw the bull away from the rider. It was a dangerous job wearing bright colors and clapping and waving, shouting and running in front of an angry, frustrated bull. "So, it was you that got ol' Tomahawk off my tail?" "Yep. Only me--Hanky the Clown!" "Obliged to you." Danny Ray touched the rim of his hat. "Where'd you get a name like Hanky?" "Don't rightly know." He smiled with a twinkle in his eye as he pulled and pulled a polka-dot handkerchief from his pocket, and it got bigger and bigger until it was nearly the size of a tablecloth! HONK! He blew his nose and Danny Ray chuckled out loud. But then the cowboy grew serious and leaned back against the gate and lowered his head. He and the clown were alone, the other riders and workers crowding around the corral to witness the next ride. The PA system blared and garbled out something incoherent. "Thinking about quitting, are you, cowboy?" Danny Ray took off his hat and ran his fingers through his chestnut hair. Hanky continued: "Don't worry none 'bout Billy Whitehorse. Commodore'll give him what's coming to him. Too bad, though," he added with a special gleam in his eye. "If only Billy had to ride a real commodore, eh, Danny Ray? Huh? A real commodore!" Danny Ray's backbone tingled as memories of the magical kingdom of Elidor flooded his brain. Riding atop the Sarksa Commodore, a stick-thin, immensely tall pirate with a head like a praying mantis and a long whip tail with a razor-sharp stinger on the end, is an experience quickly burned into one's memory bank. Danny Ray had ridden the savage pirate, his bright blue rope looped tightly around the creature's neck. He tensed, remembering the excruciating pain when the commodore had plunged its stinger into the small of his back. Danny Ray snapped out of the whirling memory to find that he had dropped his gloves and was in danger of crushing the rim of his cowboy hat in his fist. He flipped out a red handkerchief and wiped the sweat from his forehead. His threatening encounter with the Sarksa commodore hadn't been of this world--so how could this rodeo clown know about it? Danny Ray moved out from behind the gate. "Who the heck are you?" "Question is," answered Hanky, stuffing his handkerchief back into his pocket, "who are you?" The clown pointed his orange-gloved hand into the shadows across the barn where bales of hay were stacked twenty feet high. Just beyond, a shiny doorway glimmered mysteriously. "The magic doorway!" breathed Danny Ray, putting on his hat. "Recognize it, do you?" asked Hanky softly. "Takes a special feller to walk through that doorway once--but an even more special feller to do it twice. Are you that sort of feller?" Danny Ray studied the doorway. Sure enough, it was the same door as before, shimmering, glimmering, popping with sparks. He wiped his mouth with the back of his blue and white checkered sleeve. He recalled what had happened before when he had stepped through that door: falling, twirling, whipping dizzily through the air until arriving in the Kingdom of Elidor and surviving an unforgettable string of hair-raising adventures. The faces of friends from that strange world flashed through his mind: beautiful Princess Amber, Captain Quigglewigg with his orange face and green whiskers, Prince Blue, the elegant Sultana Sumferi Sar, Hoodie Crow and Piper the master gunner. There followed images of the monsters he had battled: GrimmAx the gargoyle, the Sarksa pirates, devils, bollhockers, and skull-mungers, and the Ghost of Buckholly Harbor. Danny Ray had been stung nearly to death, had almost plummeted to certain death hundreds of feet off the back of the red bat, was nearly eaten by a Sarksa queen and then again by an ol' nasty ghosty. But, shoot! Looking back on it, he had had a hoot-hollerin' fun time! And Prince Blue had found his true color and that fair, wondrous kingdom of Elidor had been saved from the grip of the tyrant, King Dru-Mordeloch of Trowland. Danny Ray snapped his head around as cheering erupted from over near the corral. Bobby Lee had ridden his steer the full six seconds. There'd be no living with his bragging for the next few months. He looked back at the sparkling door. "What's on the other side of the door this time?" Danny Ray thought he'd ask, just in case. "Could be anything." Hanky shrugged, reaching down to retrieve the cowboy's gloves off the dusty ground. "Could be anywheres." "Last time I walked through that door I had a real neat magic blue rope given to me," said Danny Ray. "Well," said the clown. He went to rub his chin but checked himself: he didn't want to smudge his makeup. "You go walkin' through that there door and I'll sure as sugar see what I can do for you." Hmmm, thought the cowboy. Why was he being chosen . . . again? Danny Ray walked cautiously toward the door. He could feel its power, he could see his wavering reflection in its liquidlike surface. "I know you're hurt right now, Danny Ray, and you might not be up fer an adventure. Your tailbone feels like someone got a hot poker up it, right?" "You rid bulls before?" "Ridden most everything," said Hanky, shaking his head as his yellow mop hair twirled from side to side underneath a tall, black stovepipe hat. "And had most everything ride me, too. But the rodeo's the place for me. Yup. Even if I can't ride no more, well, I can still help out. Anything's better than quittin'." "Well, I ain't no quitter," said Danny Ray. "Somebody, or a whole bunch of somebodys, on the other side of this doorway needs help real bad, right?" The clown smiled and made an orange thumbs-up. A drop of sweat tickled Danny Ray's cheek. Just then, Billy Whitehorse's name was announced, blaring out over the arena along with the name of Commodore, the bull he was about to ride. "Well," said Danny Ray. "I ain't accomplishing much on this side of the door, am I?" He pressed his hat down firmly on his head, hitched up his belt, and checked his chaps. "So long, Hanky," he said. "Watch my gloves for me." After a deep breath and an ever so slight hesitation, Danny Ray leaped through the flashing liquid door!
Copyright © 2007 by Len Bailey. All rights reserved.

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