|Description:||In Patti Frazee's astonishing debut novel, enchantment and illusion casually comingle with reality as the Borefsky Brothers Circus makes its way across the American Midwest in the summer of 1900. Mariana, the fortune teller, makes herself invisible and drifts through the nighttime circus, listening in on conversations and watching over her beloved Shanghai, a fire-breathing dwarf who closely guards his secrets even from Mariana's second sight. Conjoined twins Atasha and Anna cling to each other and weep for their home, and for their mother and father who sold them to the circus. Jakub, the circus manager and husband to Mariana fears his wife's gifts, grieves his own failures, and drinks to forget it all. The stories and closely guarded histories of the troupe of performers dance around each other until a love affair between Shanghai and Atasha destroys the delicate balance and as secrets are revealed and old wounds are opened the consequences are unbearable to some and liberating to others. A lyrically graceful novel, populated by vividly drawn characters Cirkus is a haunting novel of devastating heartbreak and exquisite loveliness|
Illustrated by Dennis Auth
Publisher's Weekly Select:
Shannon Cassidy-Rouleau, illus. by Dennis Auth. Big Tent Books (www.bigtentbooks.com), $19.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-60131-064-4
In a palpably affectionate narrative, Cassidy-Rouleau introduces a young alpaca who's the darling of Peter and Nora's herd. "I tell you, he's destined for great things," Peter tells his wife after the animal—named Destiny—is born to an alpaca known for her fleece. But when Destiny contracts alopecia and loses his fleece, his owners' dreams are dashed. Yet his purpose becomes clear when he sounds an alert that saves the other alpacas from wolves and assumes the role of guardian to "less than perfect" newcomers to the herd. The author, who raises alpacas in Ontario, can't resist a couple of plugs for alpaca fleece ("I've heard it's softer than wool and many times warmer," says one of Nora's customers), but the theme of acceptance is delivered gently. Auth's delicately outlined full-bleed watercolors are nicely suited to the bucolic setting, and readers will identify both with Destiny's upset over being cast out from the herd and his growing confidence. Back matter includes details about alpacas and alopecia, as well as a glossary, making this an intriguing insider's look at the animals and a reminder that some talents require looking below the surface. Ages 6–12.