When Marlo’s mom gets a job with the circus in this chapter-book series opener, the 8-year-old’s life changes for the sparklier.
As the new chef for the Stardust Circus, Marlo’s mom is in charge of the Pie Car, located right in the middle of the circus train and next to the car where the pair will sleep. From the moment she sees them, Marlo wants to march in the parade as one of the Stardust Girls—a trio comprising clown Carly, trapeze artist Allie and animal-trainer Bella. Only two things stand in her way: ringmaster Liam’s insistence that she bring “something fabulous” to the parade and Allie’s reluctance to make the trio a quartet. Marlo tries a variety of acts to no avail, in the process navigating the circus train and introducing readers to the many components of a traveling circus. Eventually her persistence wins Allie over, and Marlo realizes that her hula-hooping skills have application in the circus as well as on the playground. While the plot is simplistic, Alexander effectively conveys the hard work and athleticism that make a circus artist as well as the multicultural nature of a circus family—Bella’s family is Chinese-American, and Allie’s originally hails from Mexico. Le Feyer’s grayscale illustrations add humor and personality.
The lure of the big top will bring sparkle-loving girls back to see how Marlo’s life with the circus progresses. (Fiction. 6-8)