Tree Ring Circus
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Tree Ring Circus

by Adam Rex
     
 

In a quiet little lea, several miles out of town, a tree grows. It becomes home to sparrows, chipmunks, a whopping big bee . . . a runaway clown? Two poodles? An ape? Wait a minute. . . .
In his quirky but realistic style, Rex creates the greatest show on earth—or at least, in a tree. The surprising text is part word game, part counting game, and part

Overview

In a quiet little lea, several miles out of town, a tree grows. It becomes home to sparrows, chipmunks, a whopping big bee . . . a runaway clown? Two poodles? An ape? Wait a minute. . . .
In his quirky but realistic style, Rex creates the greatest show on earth—or at least, in a tree. The surprising text is part word game, part counting game, and part mystery. The illustrations are pure, beautiful mayhem, loaded with boisterous energy and cunning little critters that readers will love to chase through the pages.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Marvelous hand-lettering and meticulous oil paintings hearken to 19th-century Barnum ads-or 1960s counterculture poster art-in Rex's offbeat (The Dirty Cowboy) tale. The punny "tree-ring" circus of the title is not a big top, however, but a "fast-growing," nearly leafless tree and its unlikely inhabitants: "A chicken./ Two blue jays, three squirrels, a clown,/ a cat who climbed up but can't find her way down,/ three chipmunks, two sparrows,/ a whopping big bee,/ five mice and a raven/ all live in the tree." When 12 more animals (two tigers, one ostrich, etc.) escape from a traveling circus and perch on the thick, twisty branches, the tree is full, and ambitious readers can count the participants as listed in the cumulative text. At this moment, the 13th escapee-an elephant-appears, and the caption reads simply, "Drumroll, please," as the pachyderm makes its ascent. When the boughs break, the occupants tumble to the grass below "and flee from the lea/ where the tree used to be." Dr. Seuss fans, primed by the rhyme, may recall Thidwick, the Big-Hearted Moose, who allowed a whole menagerie to reside in his antlers. Rex creates an absurd counting scenario, but there's no explanation for the tree's popularity-the animals aren't talking. Instead of a plot, this book's strengths are its jazzy, oversize display type and the dainty oil renderings of the tree-climbers, who fairly pop off flattened backdrops of pastel yellow, baby blue and pale mint green. Ages 3-7. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
One seed and some rain clouds produce a fast growing tree which soon houses a variety of creatures, all enumerated for the fun of counting them. Among them is a clown, for whom the Barley & Brown traveling circus comes searching. The owners do not notice that two apes are stealing their keys until thirteen more animals are free around the tree. Rollicking rhymes enumerate the animals and their activities in a frenzied cumulative fashion across a double-page spread into a "very full tree." When the elephant tries to join them all there, then "Drum roll, please." "Whoops." A delightful six-page sequence demonstrates why an elephant should not climb a tree. The expected disaster happens: the tree is down, the animals flee, leaving the sad clown behind. It is the visual content, of course, that holds us here. The double-page scenes become overpopulated with the finely detailed large and small creatures. Equally impressive are the circus-style words, like labels, that challenge us to find their references. Oils and mixed media are manipulated with imaginative comic effect. Do not miss the glitter-trimmed jacket and the contrasting cover. 2006, Harcourt, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-This zany, rhyming, cumulative tale is carefully designed, humorously detailed, and appropriately silly. It starts and ends with a tree and features a colorful array of first woodland, and then escaped circus creatures that take up residence in its branches. A new font, including hand-lettering, announces each new arrival. Paintings created in oils and mixed media portray a jumble of animals cavorting across the pages, testing viewers' memory and visual skills. Budding artists and sophisticated fans of search-and-find books.-Debbie Stewart Hoskins, Grand Rapids Public Library, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this debut, pictures outdo the rhymed story, the idea of which derives from the title's double-pun. A "fast growing tree" attracts numerous critters: "3 chipmunks / 2 sparrows / a whopping big bee / all live in the tree where the seed used to be." An impassive "runaway clown" joins the crowd, pursued by the "traveling circus of Barley and Brown." While this pair ponders, two apes steal the key to the rolling cages, freeing all 13 circus animals. The frightened men flee with their empty caravan, and their animals soon perch on branches, followed by elephant-ergo, the destruction of the tree. Illustrations compete for design supremacy. Full-bleed oil-and-mixed-media compositions depict the tree (gnarled and nearly bare, with a smattering of both orange maple and yellow birch-like leaves) against a green, yellow or mauve sky and purplish, stylized hills. Text is sometimes painted to evoke circus signs. Escaping circus animals are rendered as pencil sketches on an eight-paneled page, while another double spread is a hodge-podge of bright posters. An interesting but overwrought effort. (Picture book. 4-7)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780152053635
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
06/01/2006
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.70(w) x 11.30(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

ADAM REX is the author and illustrator of PSSST!, TREE RING CIRCUS, FRANKENSTEIN TAKES THE CAKE, and The New York Times bestseller FRANKENSTEIN MAKES A SANDWICH. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.
www.adamrex.com

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