Years ago, stories of boys running away from home to join the circus were popular. This tale turns tail as an indentured boy and “misfit” animals try to run away from the circus.
The title sets up the plot, so readers know what will eventually happen. The misfits are Bertie, 11; Smalls, a long-tongued honey bear; Rigby, a moplike white Komondor dog; Tilda, a white Angora rabbit; and Wombat, a hairy-nosed wombat who’s in love with Tilda. They were acquired by hook and crook by Bertie’s villainous Uncle Claude, the epitome of mean, who gulps cocoa by the urn-full, abuses all of the animals and wants to sell the circus. His two right-hand but wrong-headed men, twins Loyd and Lloyd, cower at every command. There’s even romance, as Bertie is smitten by Susan, who performs a cruelly hand-blistering rope act. Each animal has a distinct personality, and they talk to one another but not to the humans. Even though the “lifer” animals (elephant, lions, monkey, zebra) resent them when the misfits begin to perform, they aid in the fiery finale and escape.
Pure melodrama with stereotypical villains in a circus setting; the appeal of talking animals with dabs of humor from the twin twits make for a good old-fashioned story. (Animal fantasy. 9-11)