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The Daring Escape of the Misfit Menagerie

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Smalls the sun bear and his friends are an unusual bunch. That's why they're known as the Misfit Menagerie. The four oddball animals live on Mr. Mumford's farm, where they play games and do tricks for neighborhood children. It's an idyllic existence—until a cruel circus owner named Claude Magnificence comes to town, and life as they know it ends. The Menagerie is snatched away to a traveling circus, where Claude and his buffoonish sidekicks force them to perform death-defying ...

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The Daring Escape of the Misfit Menagerie

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Overview

Smalls the sun bear and his friends are an unusual bunch. That's why they're known as the Misfit Menagerie. The four oddball animals live on Mr. Mumford's farm, where they play games and do tricks for neighborhood children. It's an idyllic existence—until a cruel circus owner named Claude Magnificence comes to town, and life as they know it ends. The Menagerie is snatched away to a traveling circus, where Claude and his buffoonish sidekicks force them to perform death-defying tricks. 

At the circus, Smalls and his friends only have slop to eat. They live in filthy, cramped cages. And they're bullied by a rough band of trained animals called the Lifers. It's worse than awful—it's despicable! But then young Bertie Magnificence comes along, and he and Smalls form the kind of friendship that inspires hope. They decide that something needs to change...and fast. With the help of an acrobat named Susan, Smalls and Bertie set in motion a heroic plan. 

Can a lonely boy and a misfit bear hoodwink cruel Claude and save an entire circus of captive animals?

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Smalls the bear and his coterie of animal friends-Rigby the dog, Tilda the rabbit, and Wombat the wombat-lead a happy life on Mumford's Farm & Orchard. Mumford has a weakness for gambling and booze, though, and loses the animals in a card game to an evil circus proprietor named Claude Magnificence. He whisks them off in his crumbling caravan and forces them to learn tricks to perform in his show. Smalls and company are mistreated and miserable, but the one bright spot is Claude's kindhearted, 10-year-old nephew. Bertie is also mistreated by his uncle, and he and Smalls bond over their shared sense of sorrow and loneliness. Eventually, they plan a daring escape. Nail-biting moments follow as readers race to find out whether or not the pair succeeds. Resnick's debut novel is propelled by sweet, gentle Smalls and Bertie, giving the book a sense of innocence and wonder despite the raw depictions of the mistreatment of circus animals. Claude is the opposite of Smalls and Bertie, and in him Resnick creates a villain that readers will love to hate. No new territory is covered here, but the novel may appeal to readers who enjoy their protagonists on the furry side. Atmospheric illustrations appear throughout.—Amy Holland, Irondequoit Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Years ago, stories of boys running away from home to join the circus were popular. This tale turns tail as an indentured boy and "misfit" animals try to run away from the circus. The title sets up the plot, so readers know what will eventually happen. The misfits are Bertie, 11; Smalls, a long-tongued honey bear; Rigby, a moplike white Komondor dog; Tilda, a white Angora rabbit; and Wombat, a hairy-nosed wombat who's in love with Tilda. They were acquired by hook and crook by Bertie's villainous Uncle Claude, the epitome of mean, who gulps cocoa by the urn-full, abuses all of the animals and wants to sell the circus. His two right-hand but wrong-headed men, twins Loyd and Lloyd, cower at every command. There's even romance, as Bertie is smitten by Susan, who performs a cruelly hand-blistering rope act. Each animal has a distinct personality, and they talk to one another but not to the humans. Even though the "lifer" animals (elephant, lions, monkey, zebra) resent them when the misfits begin to perform, they aid in the fiery finale and escape. Pure melodrama with stereotypical villains in a circus setting; the appeal of talking animals with dabs of humor from the twin twits make for a good old-fashioned story. (Animal fantasy. 9-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595145888
  • Publisher: Razorbill
  • Publication date: 12/6/2012
  • Series: Misfit Menagerie Series , #1
  • Pages: 320
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 730L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 8.34 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Resnick received her BA from Cornell University and her MFA in Writing for Children from the New School. She grew up in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and their tiny dog, who moonlights as her writing companion. The Daring Escape of the Misfit Menagerie is her first novel. Find out more at: www.jacquelinewrites.com. 

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