The Stardust Girls return for a second circus-friendship tale.
The introductory title, Step into the Spotlight! (2014), centered on newcomer Marlo and her acceptance by circus girls Allie, Bella and Carly and their circle of friends. This title switches focus to Mexican-American Allie, short for Alejandra, a trapeze artist with dreams of television fame. These aspirations are stoked by the appearance of a TV producer and cameraman on the Stardust Circus train, there to shoot footage for a behind-the-scenes special. Allie’s machinations to draw their attention threaten her friendships and even her life, when she switches leotards in order to stand out among her blue-costumed family during a show. Once again, Alexander sets recognizable early-elementary dilemmas against an alluring backdrop for a story that feels both familiar and exotic at the same time. Allie’s delusions of greatness are completely on target for an 8-year-old; while readers will see that she has no chance at TV stardom, they will also empathize with her intense desires. Le Feyer’s grayscale illustrations (two to three to a double-page spread) break up the text for new chapter-book readers while also developing characters, working with the text to create a convincingly multiethnic circus community.
Girls who love sparkles could do far worse than to spend time with these appealing performers. (Fiction. 6-9)