EMELINE AT THE CIRCUS by Marjorie Priceman


Age Range: 4 - 9
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PLB 0-679-97685-X In this tale, Priceman (My Nine Lives by Clio, 1998, etc.) uses color with great verve and energy, while her sly, appealing sense of humor allows a very different story to unfold in the pictures than the one taking place in the text. Ms. Splinter’s second grade is at the circus, and while the teacher holds forth about what is happening before their eyes, Emeline is having a parallel but distinctly separate adventure. As Ms. Splinter distinguishes between the African and Indian elephants, Emeline peacefully wanders off to buy peanuts; as Ms. Splinter describes the llama, Emeline’s peanuts get shaken into the mouth of the previous elephant, which is shaking her aloft. Emeline acquires a clown nose and hat (“clown comes from the Old Norse word klînne,” Ms. Splinter intones, “meaning ‘clumsy fellow,’ “) and proceeds to ride bareback, grab the highwire, and get rescued from the hippo by the strongman (as Ms. Splinter defines deltoids, biceps, and triceps). Facing the tiger and kissing the monkey leads Emeline to a quick aerial stunt and then she returns, placidly, to her seat. Confetti colors engender a child’s circus fantasy explosion: Emeline is always visible in her bright blue dress and red collar (and her clown nose). The pictures, while busy, are carefully composed; readers will always know what is going on and where Emeline is as the poker-faced narration marches on. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-679-87685-5
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1999