cover image CIRCUS GIRL


Tomek Bogacki, Tomasz Bogacki, . . FSG/Foster, $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-31291-6

This book wows readers with a knockout cover image, a blurry, life-size portrait of an auburn-haired girl. The girl gazes at her audience with confident sky-blue eyes and a Mona Lisa smile; trapeze artists perform in the background. The anticipation builds from there, as an old-fashioned wooden caravan chugs into town. "The next day, our teacher brought a new girl to our classroom," says the boy narrator. "I am sure the teacher told us her name, but we just called her Circus Girl." The newcomer sits next to Tim, the least popular child in the class, and the narrator, in trying to win the girl's favor, becomes Tim's friend, too. The three children play together and enjoy the Big Top before Circus Girl must leave. With a nostalgic feel and a backdrop of winding streets similar to his My First Garden, Bogacki once again divides his spreads into rectangular panels with soft edges and rounded corners—juxtaposing scenes of the school, village and tent. His kaleidoscopic, out-of-focus compositions recall Chagall canvases. Circus Girl wears a red-and-yellow outfit that blazes against the gray-green, putty-yellow and clay-brown palette, and enhances her aura of mystery and benevolence. This quiet story of friendship may not emphasize thrilling three-ring excitement, but the pictorial sequences capture the ethereal magic of a carnival, personified in an intriguing stranger. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)