At the Dingling Circus, “a STAR is born”—but how can he dazzle the audience when he won’t stop crying?
In the grand tradition of Marla Frazee’s The Boss Baby (2010), Kate Beaton’s King Baby (2016), and others, a pair of overwhelmed new parents navigate their infant’s attempts to communicate. Boffo and Frieda Clown feed and burp Baby Clown, change his diaper, juggle for him, and even ask their fellow circus performers to entertain him in hopes of ending his wailing. Cordell’s characteristically loose ink-and-watercolor illustrations brilliantly evoke Quentin Blake’s Clown (1996), with large oval eyeballs and expressive mouths and hands. The clown parents’ dramatic features are further exaggerated as they experience dismay, frustration, and abject despair (in one spread, Frieda lies on the floor in the fetal position while Boffo, on his knees, begs Baby Clown to be quiet). All efforts to cheer the tot fail, but the show must go on: The sold-out crowd (depicted in shades of sepia) is eager to see Baby Clown—and their eagerness results in an unexpected solution! The clowns’ makeup is paper-white, and Baby Clown has a shock of brown hair and light-colored hands; “big boss” Mr. Dingling is the only character with distinctly brown skin.
Both amusing and endearing; caregivers and close acquaintances of newborns will feel seen—and heard. (Picture book. 3-8)