Sing a Song of Circus

Ward Schumaker, Author Harcourt Children's Books $13 (40p) ISBN 978-0-15-201363-9
Two balloons run away to the circus in this exquisitely crafted book. Schumaker's (Mouse Chase; Dance!) ink lines and stylized forms soar across the heavy opaque pages with wit and grace; the sophisticated graphics divide backgrounds into circles or tentlike swaths of color. Using hand separations that create the appearance of a slightly off-kilter register, Schumaker imbues his handsome, dense colors with a dynamism all their own. Every page surges with energy: confetti and streamers tumble from the big top sky; a lion's ring of fire dances with flame and heat; a clown's ruffle and a dancer's tutu look electrified. On many pages, the typography joins in the fun--in one spread, words balance on the noses of two seals. The story shows a lively imagination as well: the two balloons go to work in a variety of circus jobs, from holding up a clown's pants to serving (albeit messily) popcorn and drinks to the crowd. But as is true of the circus itself, it's clearly the visual dazzle that counts here--narrative seems almost beside the point. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/03/1997
Release date: 03/01/1997
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