cover image The Saint and the Circus

The Saint and the Circus

Roberto Piumini. Tambourine Books, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10377-4

Filofilo, the pot-bellied acrobat for the Bumbellini Circus, dazzles his audience, expertly dipping his balancing pole ``to give the crowd the thrills they had paid for.'' Suddenly, a sparrow lights on the end of the pole, tipping it precariously. The acrobat's panicky cry of ``Heaven, help us!'' alerts the celestial Emergency Room, manned at that moment by the inept Saint Tony, ``who had been made a Saint more for his good humor than his good sense.'' The well-intentioned saint dispatches a second sparrow to even things out--with unhappy results. A pigeon, cat, dog and monkey follow in slapstick succession as the beleagured saint's desperation increases--leaving poor Filofilo swaying overhead. In the lively translation of Piumini's Italian text, humor mounts with the arrival of each new animal, and Root's ( The Araboolies of Liberty Street ) zany depictions of the portly circus star and his startled menagerie are executed with a panache befitting the big top. The antics are somewhat predictable, however, and the book's design--excessive white space and cramped text--may not appeal to all. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)