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Circus Girl

Circus Girl

by Michael Garland (Illustrator)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This vivid mood piece economically conveys the exotic quality of its eponymous heroine's way of life: ``Alice is a circus girl. Everyone in her family is in the circus. Alice's mother walks the tightrope, and her father is a clown.'' Alice's family starts and ends the day with a caravan trip to a new town, and Garland ( My Cousin Katie ) chronicles their routines, from the circus parade and the backstage doings to the show itself. The text is understated, with the drama reserved for Garland's essentially realistic paintings of parading elephants, leaping acrobats, motorcycle-riding bears and so forth. Both the palette and the lighting are somewhat theatrical--for example, there's quite a lot of royal blue and Bozo-the-clown orange-red--and many subjects seem frozen in the glare of a spotlight. The combination of the matter-of-fact narrative and the lustrous art produces pleasing contrasts: ``Her father reads Alice a bedtime story before she goes to sleep,'' reads the conclusion; the facing illustration shows the father, in clown suit, makeup and wig, sitting cross-legged with a very tired Alice in his lap as he reads from an open book--with the circus lions and tigers, a few feet away in their cages, looking amazedly on. Ages 4-8. (May)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-Alice lives and performs with a traveling act in which her father is a clown and her mother is a tightrope walker. Garland takes readers through a day with the circus, arriving in a town and setting up tents, dressing for the show, the performance itself, and cleaning up afterwards. The cooperative, family environment of circus life is stressed. Large, bright, realistic, painterly illustrations communicate the excitement of the big top. Prancing horses, a motorcycle-riding bear, and parading elephants seem to burst from the two-dimensional limitations of each page. The text is less vivid than the pictures, and exists primarily to describe the action in them. Alice does not develop into an interesting character, but seems to be merely a device around which to tell the story. However, this is a good presentation of a subject that fascinates many children.-Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ
Carolyn Phelan
"Alice is a circus girl. Everyone in her family is in the circus. Alice's mother walks the tightrope and her father is a clown." Grandmother, grandfather, aunts, and uncles form a large extended family for Alice, and all travel together in the circus. From the scene of the caravan driving toward a new town to the big family dinner after the show, the almost-photographic-quality art gives an up-close view of circus life. But rather than extending the illustrations, the matter-of-fact text merely captions them. Many children find the circus disquieting rather than exciting, and there is a dark, somewhat surreal quality to several of the scenes that will not appeal to every viewer. However, other illustrations have a more universal appeal. One memorable painting shows Alice sitting in her dad's lap for a bedtime story, while in the circus wagon behind them lions and tigers listen enrapt and evidently terrified by the tale. This should find an audience where circus books are popular.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
11.12(w) x 10.25(h) x 0.46(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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