cover image The Circus Lunicus

The Circus Lunicus

Marilyn Singer. Henry Holt & Company, $17 (168pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-6268-7

Singer (Deal with a Ghost) serves up an energetic but predictable male Cinderella story, with a supernatural twist. Ever since his mother's supposed death, 11-year-old Solomon Yanish has lived with his hard-edged stepmother, ""Old Staircase,"" and his two stepbrothers, Jason and Mason. Old Staircase makes Solly do all the chores and rewards her lazy, bullying biological children with expensive gifts. His father, perpetually away on business, doesn't seem to care. But when the mysterious Circus Lunicus comes to town after a six-year absence, and Solly's toy lizard begins to grow to enormous proportions, Solly begins to suspect the truth: his mother was involved with the circus in mysterious ways. Freeble Komodeeble, once a lizard toy but now his fairy godmother, teaches Solly ""Lizardry"" and tells him secrets in a made-up dialect. For example, after transforming the malevolent stepbrothers into Solly's doting servants, she quips, ""Just a weeble switchereeble."" The climactic scene is utter mayhemDSolly himself calls it ""bedlam""Dwith plot elements that are more over the top than Big Top. The strange activities of the circus will intrigue fantasy fansDeven if they can guess the plot's resolution. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)