THE CIRCUS LUNICUS

Solomon (Solly for short) has lots of problems: a mean stepmother, two inconsiderate and lazy stepbrothers, an absent father, and an unresolved longing for mothering. Sound familiar? He also has a fairy godmother, but not the usual sort with wishes and wings and a wand. Freeble is a six-foot-tall talking lizard who conquers the highest levels of computer games and teaches Solly to transform himself into a lizard, too. Singer has created a fantastic, funny, but believable world in which intelligent alligators from planet Reptilia transform themselves into human shape when they perform on earth in the Circus Lunicus. Singer’s poetic talents are apparent in her language play with the talking lizard, who has an unusual but perfectly understandable manner of speaking. She skillfully weaves all the elements of the Cinderella mythic structure into her tale, along with the concept of a mother from another species who must return to her own kind. The story is told in short sentences and brief chapters with the appeal of a three-ring circus: laughter, suspense, and a little danger to keep the crowd wanting more. Solly wisely solves his own problems in his own way, finding hidden strengths within himself and help from unexpected sources, just like Cinderella. Luminous and humorous. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8050-6268-8

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2000

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IT'S ALL GREEK TO ME

Scieszka and Lane’s intrepid heroes of The Time Warp Trio are once again up to their necks in very silly historical circumstances. Joe, Fred, and Sam are horsing around during their school play—which they wrote themselves—about the ancient deities of Greece. When a cardboard thunderbolt accidently hits the magic blue book stashed in Joe’s backpack, the three boys are transported back to ancient Greece—or so they think. When they meet some of the wisecracking gods and goddesses on Mount Olympus, they realize they’ve been transported to the fictionalized Greece of their play, complete with dialogue they wrote using “The Book of Snappy Insults.” While flinging around backhanded compliments with Hera (who’s not bad on the uptake), the three time travelers try to locate their blue book of magic so they can return home. Instead, they end up as that night’s entertainment for the gods. The opening jokes fall flat, but then Joe comes up with some last-minute parlor tricks. Just when everything’s going well, a pack of Greek monsters arrives, and the mountain top threatens to become a battlefield. The wordplay is still fast and funny, and fans of the series will not mind that the deities have become sort of stock types; the abundance of goofy Groucho Marx-style zingers will keep everyone else smiling. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-670-88596-7

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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THE MAGIC HILL

Pooh might describe this 1925 offering from Milne as a Very Small Tale, and so it is, but gentle and sweet withal. Princess Daffodil is the only daughter after six sons of the king and queen, and at her christening the Fairy Mumruffin grants her the gift of flowers, which will grow wherever she steps. When the princess begins toddling about the king’s favorite thinking place, strewing flowers everywhere, the king decides she must keep off the paths entirely. After a few years of this, the doctor pronounces that she must do what little girls do: “She must run about more. She must climb hills and roll down them. She must hope and skip and jump.” So the queen finds a solution in a small hill, where Daffodil can do all those things to her heart’s content, and where children play and pick the posies she makes there. Brown, who remembered the story from her own mother’s telling, who remembered it from her mother, has created delicate and winsome illustrations that are also precise: the various species of flowers are easily identifiable. Children will be charmed by the little doll-like faces of the characters and the excellent fairy colors, pastel-colored to jewel-toned as needed. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-525-46147-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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