cover image The Twelve Circus Rings

The Twelve Circus Rings

Seymour Chwast. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200627-3

A panoply of colorful circus characters gambol across the pages of this cumulative counting book, loosely derived from ``The 12 Days of Christmas.'' Beginning with one daredevil on a high wire, the ever-changing spectacle reaches its climax: ``In the twelfth circus ring, my sister saw with me twelve animals laughing, eleven horseback riders, ten leapers leaping . . . three monkeys playing, two elephants, and a daredevil on a high wire.'' In various rows (their numbers keyed to each ring), spectators in the foreground watch each energetic tableau, whose different characters are set against oddly blank light blue backgrounds. Chwast's ability, in this companion volume to Alphabet Parade , to pack so many of his glossy, simply outlined figures into coherent images is impressive, though some youngsters may miss the spark and details of big top life to be found, for example, in Peter Spier's Circus! The concluding four pages of mathematical permutations based on the book's performers provide especially absorbing material--the challenges here may well extend to the interests of older readers. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)