Etgar Keret, Author, Rutu Modan, Illustrator , illus. by Rutu Modan. Candlewick $16.99 (0p) ISBN 978-0-7636-2247-3

This fresh and beguiling domestic fantasy from an Israeli team centers on a father who follows his bliss to the Big Top. Audrey and Zach, Dad's children, serve as the story's joint narrators, and Keret, making his picture-book debut, beautifully captures the solemn cadences of their precocious nature. When the day of the circus trip arrives, Dad is so carried away with excitement that he "behaved very irresponsibly, pulling all sorts of wild and dangerous stunts that could have ended in tears." Modan, a noted Israeli comics artist, shows Dad attempting a balancing act with housewares while roller-skating through the kitchen; here, as throughout the book, her vibrant pictures meld a hip graphic novel–sensibility with the brash naiveté of circus posters. When Dad actually leaves his family, Audrey and Zach remain sanguine, confident of Dad's enduring affection: "even when he was away, he didn't forget about us. He sent us mail from all over the world." Besides, Dad compensates with a homecoming to remember, in which he fills the shoes of every circus performer—a feat that Modan celebrates with a bravura double gatefold spread. The circus attitudes struck by all the members of the joyfully reunited family on the final spreads make clear that everyone has benefited from looking at life from a three-ring perspective (Dad uses his flame-throwing talents to cook the hotdogs, Mom twirls plates on a rake and umbrella). Even those decades away from a mid-life crisis will likely declare this one a winner. All ages. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 10/25/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
Genre: Children's
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