Dave Thorne is all set with Strong's Circus after his uncle, their bandmaster, dies. At 14, Dave is big enough and bright enough to be a welcome extra hand at the many jobs a travelling circus has for an unskilled boy. Occasionally his marks at the circus school take a nose dive as Dave is caught up in the activities of the various departments to which he is assigned. He starts off as a pot walloper in the cook tent, but his first love is the animals, especially the big cats in the menagerie act. His friendship with the keepers and his work as the circus vet's assistant bring him close to the animals he likes best. It's a poorly integrated novel-- clowns, freaks and roustabouts rush on and off the pages-- but Dave's work day takes the reader behind the scenes to briefly explore the mechanics of tentshow life and performance. Dave's future is assured when he stops a runaway cat-- he'll be a vet. It's a magic-formula story under a rather subdued Big Top, but it will satisfy boys reading for pleasure.