Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Step right up to one of Priceman's (Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin; Dancin' in the Kitchen) most intriguing picture books. Ms. Splinter leads her second-grade class on a field trip to the circus for what she calls a "great learning experience." Ms. Splinter might as well be Ms. Stickler, for all the rules she imposes: "Sit up straight. No shouting. No fidgeting. No standing on the seats. No wandering off." Fortunately, Emeline can't resist breaking the rules, and wanders off to buy a bag of peanuts, which tempts an elephant to lift her and her snack right into the center ring. While Ms. Splinter, her nose buried in books, recites facts about the various animals and the history of circus acts, Emeline dons a clown outfit, rides horseback and is saved by the strongman from the clutches of a hippo. When Emeline performs a "splendid stunt" on the trapeze, she finally catches the eye of her stunned teacher just before returning safely to her seat. Kids will love the playful depiction of the two parallel experiences. Unwittingly, Ms. Splinter recites each of her dreary lessons in response to one of Emeline's wild adventures in the ring (though the teacher's running commentary isn't really so dreary; it's chock-full of interesting tidbits and some dry humor). Priceman's vivacious ink-and-watercolor paintings convey all the kinetic excitement of the Big Top as viewed from both in the ring and in the stands--the second graders, oblivious to their teacher, react to Emeline's antics with appropriate facial expressions in oval-shaped vignettes. Each of Priceman's colorful scenes of controlled chaos--as animals and performers in all manner of glitzy costume tumble, prance and parade about-- attests to why this is called the greatest show on earth. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Donna T. Brumby
Following along the same successful path taken in her Caldecott Honor book, Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin, Marjorie Priceman offers another winning effort in this new book describing a class field trip to the circus. Emeline's conscientious teacher believes the circus will afford her class many learning opportunities, of which she intends to take full advantage. Admonishing her charges to be quite, keep their hands in their laps, and pay close attention, teacher proceeds to read descriptions of the exciting circus activities from a book she brought along. Priceman illustrates her appropriately didactic story with busy, bright gouache paintings highlighting our heroine Emeline's successful attempts to actually learn from her day at the circus. There is a lot to learn here, and Priceman proves a much better teacher than the misguided example in her delightful book.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Ms. Splinter is determined that her second graders' trip to the circus will be a great learning experience. She cautions them to, "Sit up straight. No shouting. No fighting. No fidgeting," while she reads relevant information about each act. When Emeline leaves the group to purchase peanuts, this simple act not only catapults her into an elephant's trunk but also thrusts her into one circus act after another. The hilarity of this story lies in the juxtaposition of Ms. Splinter's erudite explanations (e.g., "Observe the graceful horse. Latin name, Equus. A hoofed, herbivorous mammal") with Emeline's dangerous interaction with the animal or act described. In this instance the child is propelled from a teeter-totter onto the shoulders of a performer riding a horse bareback. From the endpapers striped like circus tents, to the swirls of saturated colors in the large gouache paintings within, Priceman has captured the thrill and excitement of the big top. High wires, tumbling acrobats, prancing animals abound, and the action bleeds off every page. In sharp contrast, the teacher and her students are enclosed in a small circle and placed on a quiet, beige background. The book is cleverly designed so that although a page turn is required to see how Emeline is rescued each time she faces imminent danger, sharp eyes can discover some clues beforehand. Mischievous Emeline is much like her rhymed forebear, Madeline, and youngsters will not want to miss this romp with her.-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community-Technical College, CT Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Priceman captures the [circus] show's frenzied grace in freely painted forms that dance and swirl in a richly saturated palette featuring complementary tones...
The Horn Book Magazine
In this tale, Priceman (My Nine Lives by Clio, 1998, etc.) uses color with great verve and energy, while her sly, appealing sense of humor allows a very different story to unfold in the pictures than the one taking place in the text. Ms. Splinter's second grade is at the circus, and while the teacher holds forth about what is happening before their eyes, Emeline is having a parallel but distinctly separate adventure. As Ms. Splinter distinguishes between the African and Indian elephants, Emeline peacefully wanders off to buy peanuts; as Ms. Splinter describes the llama, Emeline's peanuts get shaken into the mouth of the previous elephant, which is shaking her aloft. Emeline acquires a clown nose and hat ("clown comes from the Old Norse word klönne," Ms. Splinter intones, "meaning `clumsy fellow,'Ê") and proceeds to ride bareback, grab the highwire, and get rescued from the hippo by the strongman (as Ms. Splinter defines deltoids, biceps, and triceps). Facing the tiger and kissing the monkey leads Emeline to a quick aerial stunt and then she returns, placidly, to her seat. Confetti colors engender a child's circus fantasy explosion: Emeline is always visible in her bright blue dress and red collar (and her clown nose). The pictures, while busy, are carefully composed; readers will always know what is going on and where Emeline is as the poker-faced narration marches on. (Picture book. 4-9)
From the Publisher
★ “Priceman’ best, wildly exuberant style . . . Gorgeously colored paintings celebrate the daring, glamour, and breathless excitement of the circus.” — Booklist, Starred
"Hilarious....Priceman has captured the thrill and excitement of the big top." — School Library Journal
"A raucous visual entertainment...bold and energetic." — The New York Times
"A rambunctious parody." — The Horn Book Magazine
"A child’s circus fantasy explosion." — Kirkus Reviews, Pointer