cover image Little Kit: Or, the Industrious Flea Circus Girl

Little Kit: Or, the Industrious Flea Circus Girl

Emily Arnold McCully. Dial Books, $14.89 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1674-2

Like a female Oliver Twist, Kit is plucked from the streets of 19th-century London to labor for a ne'er-do-well. Her harsh taskmaster is one Professor Malefetta, manager of a traveling flea circus, who unwittingly takes her for a boy. Expecting a life of adventure, Kit instead finds herself as poorly treated as her charges, the professor's overworked fleas. When a pickpocket at a countryside fair discovers her true identity and threatens to reveal it to the professor, Kit liberates the fleas and finds safe haven with a wholesome rural family. McCully, who came across references to flea circuses while researching Mirette on the High Wire, provides a historical note to explain how fleas ``performed.'' Expansively illustrated with bustling watercolors, her scrumptious period piece balances treachery with poetic justice in as cozy a manner as any of Dickens's peers. Ages 5-8. (Mar.)