The Man Who Loved Clowns

June Rae Wood, Author
June Rae Wood, Author Putnam Publishing Group $17.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-399-21888-0
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
In this potent debut, Wood displays a prodigious writing and storytelling talent. Delrita, 13, has recently moved to a small Missouri town with her parents and Punky, an uncle who has Down's syndrome. Delrita adores Punky, yet is also embarrassed by him. She easily accepts his childish ways at home, but avoids having visitors, and attending church in her new community causes the girl considerable anguish. Always a loner, Punky is befriended by the persistent Avanelle Shackleford (``a name that was almost bigger than she was''), a classmate who also has familial shame--and a fabulous older brother. When disaster tears Delrita's life apart, her new friends' support fortifies her as does Punky's enduring love. The skillfully crafted work, based on the author's memory of a brother who had Down's syndrome, is enriched by humorous touches and Delrita's involving, simply told narrative. This close-up view of a prevalent disease is more than a one-note novel: the author also artfully interweaves issues of loneliness, first romance and parental death. Both Delrita and Punky are complex, realistically drawn characters worthy of attention and admiration. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)
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