Pete and Fremont

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Purebred and razzle-dazzle pink, Pete the poodle is the biggest star in the Circus Martinez. But when he muffs a couple of flaming-hoop jumps, he gets bumped from the headliner spot. Pete’s just about ready to roll over and play dead when he comes nose to nose with the new attraction, a supersized grizzly bear named Fremont, who was captured from the wild a few nights before. Despite their knee-shaky beginning, Pete and Fremont hit it off. And together they learn that, though it’s no place for...

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Overview

Purebred and razzle-dazzle pink, Pete the poodle is the biggest star in the Circus Martinez. But when he muffs a couple of flaming-hoop jumps, he gets bumped from the headliner spot. Pete’s just about ready to roll over and play dead when he comes nose to nose with the new attraction, a supersized grizzly bear named Fremont, who was captured from the wild a few nights before. Despite their knee-shaky beginning, Pete and Fremont hit it off. And together they learn that, though it’s no place for rookies or hopeless has-beens, the circus is a breeding ground for first-class camaraderie.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Young readers will enjoy this story of a circus, in which the animals, unbeknownst to the human managers, actually run the show.”—Booklist
“A heartwarming tale of interspecies bonding; you can almost hear the soundtrack.”—Kirkus Reviews
Children's Literature - Chris Newsham
Pete the pink poodle has been a circus performer for his whole life, but when his tail catches fire as he jumps through a flaming hoop, his owners think he might be getting too old for his act. He is given one more chance. When he misses again, Pete is demoted to the "Canine Cannonball" act. Then, he befriends a young grizzly bear named Fremont. The bear has been captured but is scared of the trainers, and the circus life isn't working out for him. The unlikely pair works on a new act together. It is a big hit and returns Pete to star billing, but Fremont still wants to go back to the woods. So, Pete puts "Operation Wild Thing" into play to help his new friend escape. This story is told from the dog's point of view. Animals can talk to each other and understand humans, but humans cannot understand animals. The pen-and-ink cartoon drawings are very descriptive and add to the characters' development. This book's interest level is second to fourth grade, but the reading level is on the high side of this group. It may be too long to hold the attention of its intended audience and would work better as a read-aloud book shared by an adult and a child. Reviewer: Chris Newsham
School Library Journal

Gr 2-4
Pete the pink poodle's jump through a fiery hoop has been the pièce de résistance of the Circus Martinez's show until the night he stumbles and his tail catches on fire. Humiliated and with his confidence shaken, Pete misses the jump entirely in his next performance and is replaced by a younger dog. Relegated to working with the clowns, he spends his spare time sparring with his nemesis, Rita the chimpanzee, and befriending the circus's newest animal-a wild bear that, it turns out, will only talk to Pete. When the ringleader decides to give Fremont to a zoo, Pete and Rita form an unlikely alliance to save him and to get Pete back in the spotlight. Tripp's strength is in the way she keeps the plot moving along while revealing interesting behind-the-scenes details of circus life. Pete and Rita's bickering isn't too far from the playground, and there's a wink of humor in the way Pete views his trainers as "pretty bright, as people go." The bear and the poodle go on parallel journeys as Fremont chooses to make the best of a bad situation and Pete chooses to overlook his own interests to be a good friend. Manders's busy, freewheeling illustrations add an appropriate and enticing touch to this entertaining chapter book.
—Adrienne FurnessCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
Screenwriter Tripp's Disney-esque debut pairs an aging circus poodle and a huge, unhappy bear. Pete, aka Pierre LeChien-"But if you call me Powder Puff, I just might take a piece out of your pants"-is proud to be top dog in Monsieur Moliere's Performing Pups. That pride takes a hard fall when he's demoted to the job of Canine Cannonball after twice muffing his old act. But he bounces back with a new plan when Fremont, a hostile, uncooperative young grizzly, is brought in to spice up the "wild" animal show, and shows an unexpected knack for juggling. Can the two whip up a new act that will both revive Pete's career and keep Fremont out of the zoo? Do you doubt? Manders's animated, Bill Peet-style illustrations reflect the doggy briskness of Pete's narrative voice and capture the small-circus setting nicely. Despite their eventual triumph, Pete comes to realize that Fremont will never be happy under the Big Top, and so with help from the circus's other animal performers, engineers his escape back to the wild. A heartwarming tale of interspecies bonding; you can almost hear the soundtrack. (Fantasy. 9-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152062385
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 8/1/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

JENNY TRIPP comes to the field of children’s books from a diverse and illustrious career as a screenwriter. She has also written humor and travel pieces for various magazines. She lives in Essex, Connecticut.

JOHN MANDERS has illustrated more than a dozen award-winning books for children, including Humphrey, Albert, and the Flying Machine by Kathryn Lasky. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
 

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
 
S aturday, June 12, a year ago this summer, is a day I’ll never forget. And believe me, I’ve tried. We were playing a woodsy little town, up near the top of the map. The evening show was sold out as usual.
           I lost my puppy teeth long ago, but I’m all the dog I ever was—or most of it, anyway. But on this particular evening, there was a kind of rainy fog hanging around that seemed to sink into my bones.
           My hind legs were stiff. I could feel a little twinge in my walk that worried me. I first noticed it at rehearsal, when I blew my somersault coming off the rolla-bolla ball.
           Sophie, Imelda, and Czarina—the Lipizzaner sisters—were getting their glossy, white manes braided in the wings and saw me go sprawling in the sawdust. “Peter, you are all right?” Sophie whinnied, tossing her long, elegant head.
           The Lipizzaner mares are what you’d call circus royalty. Their ancestors played the Colosseum back in ancient Rome, and they don’t let anyone forget it. But there’s no harder working horses in show business, or nags with more heart. They’d go on with three broken legs if they had to.
           “Nah, Sophie, just missed my mark,” I barked back, as Mike, our trainer, bent down to pat me.
           “Hurt yourself, old boy?” Mike asked softly, checking my back legs with careful, sure hands. The “old boy” hurt worse than the fall, but I licked his face anyhow, just to let him know I was okay. He and his wife, Greta, are pretty bright, as people go. But when you’re trying to communicate with humans, you’ve got to keep it simple.
           Wouldn’t you know it, Lolly was right there, too. She batted puppy-dog eyes back at me from under her bonnet. “Hope you’re not too shook to do the finale,” she cooed.
           “Don’t get your hopes up,” I snapped.
           She was practically drooling to hear that I wouldn’t be going on. Fat chance! I gave her a toothy smile, then jumped up and did a flip, just to show her. I wasn’t about to let this upstart mutt think I was gonna play dead while she bumped me out of the spotlight.
           “Bravo, Bone Breath!” I heard Rita holler from the high wire, where she was lazing around as usual. “But you better save it for show time. Who knows how many more of those you got in you?”
           She wouldn’t have made that crack if she’d been down here where I could get to her. But that’s a chimp for you. Just smart enough to keep out of snapping distance but too dumb to keep her trap shut.
           I’ve known Rita all my life, but she’s not gonna win “most popular” any time soon. Opposable thumbs and a twisted sense of humor make a rotten combination. Who else would—or even could?—pull the kind of practical jokes Rita does? Like when she stuck a lollipop on PeeWee the ostrich’s tail feathers? The poor dope started whirling so fast trying to catch hold of that sucker, he plowed smack into the cotton candy machine. Neither of them has really been the same since.
           Anyhow, I’ve discovered that the best way to deal with a smart aleck like Rita is to let what she says just blow by me. So I went on with rehearsal and didn’t muff it again.
           But I knew she and Lolly would be watching tonight.
 
           The first fifteen minutes of a show are my favorite part. The band starts to play. The crowd presses though the ticket gates and climbs into the bleachers. The big top is stretched tight overhead, striped bright red and white like a colossal peppermint drop. Little kids are clutching their balloons and cotton candy, so excited they can’t sit still.
           Backstage, everyone’s zipping up costumes and daubing on greasepaint, checking props and warming up. The air is buzzing with the feeling that something amazing could happen, will happen, any minute now.
           Then the horns blare a fanfare, and the spotlight hits the ringmaster center ring. Lifting his top hat, he bellows, “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the Biggest Little Circus on Earth—Circus Martinez!”
           His big black whip hisses and cracks—S-s-s-s-s-s-snap!—as the band swings into our theme song. Places, everyone! It’s magic time.
           Tonight, like all those other nights, us dogs and our humans were ready and waiting in the wings. Scrappy, his clown hat in place, was chewing at his stubby tail, trying to squash a frisky flea. Lolly, baby bonnet tied under her chin, was sprawled on the floor, probably daydreaming about spitting her pacifier out for good. Mike’s wife, Greta, was giving my pom-pom a final fluff.
           Scraps laid off his tail and cocked his head at me. “That was a rough tumble you took, Pete. You all right?” he asked.
           I could see Lolly’s ears perk up.
           “Never better, Scraps,” I answered, but I was looking at Lolly when I said it.
           I could see the other dogs trading worried looks. Nobody likes bad feeling in the act. But there was no time to pick that bone now. Up on hind legs, we jogged briskly out from the wings, me in the lead and Mike and Greta bringing up the rear. On with the show!
           When you’re doing a performance, time seems to go by in a flash, like someone’s pushed the fast-forward button. Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom, ba-da-bam! The next thing I know I’m twirling my baton and making the rolla-bolla ball sail circles around the ring. The crowd’s loving me, and I’m loving them back. The twinge in my hindquarters is history. 
           I dash smartly into place on the end of the springboard for the finale. I can feel Lolly’s greedy gaze on me. Let her look, I think to myself, and see how a real star shines!
           The drumroll begins, deep and exciting, and the spotlight hits my spangled jacket. Greta quickly rolls the kiddy pool into place. Mike sets the hoop on the stand and lights it on fire.
           The crowd holds its breath. Even the littlest kids stop hollering and hold still. All eyes are on me. The trumpet sounds my cue. I give a mighty leap, and the springboard throws me high into the air. One flip, two flips, three—
           And that’s when it all goes up in smoke.
           Literally. 
 

 
Text copyright © 2007 by Jenny Tripp

Illustrations copyright © 2007 by John Manders

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/ contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

 

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