Puzzle #4: Hop, Skip, and Jump
This puzzle’s theme is more gridplay than wordplay; theme answers hop, skip, and jump over black squares to span the entire grid. There were surprisingly few good options for this pattern, but the 3 I picked seemed colorful and interesting. My only nit is that BIGTOPPEEWEE is an odd-man-out as the only theme answer that’s a proper noun as well as the only hyphenated answer (Pee-wee).
This grid also has an unusually high word count (86), partly due to the nature of the theme. Usually the theme provides longer answers, but not this time. I’m fine with exceeding the typical limit of 78 for this series because it keeps the grid more segmented and therefore more easily filled with words that people are highly likely to know.
Usually a plural clue leads to an answer ending with S, but this grid has two plurals that don’t end with S: CACTI and GEESE. Hopefully, those didn’t give you too much trouble.