Age Range: 8 - 12
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A small but plucky and resourceful heroine stars in this novel, set in the era of P.T. Barnum and his extraordinary exhibits, from Jocelyn (Hannah and the Seven Dresses, p. 884, etc.). Josephine, only 22 inches high, is sold by her own parents to a young ladies boarding school, with a headmistress who makes Sara Crewe’s Miss Minchin appear angelic. The place is a horror, for Miss MacLaren uses the tuition money to line her own pockets, spending little on her students and less on the house and help. Josephine escapes to the city, to become part of the Museum of Earthly Astonishments along with Charley, an albino boy, and his mother, the kindly Nelly. Josephine learns her part and plays it well, a living doll dressed in historical costumes; Charley and Nelly become her family. But Miss MacLaren tracks her down, of course, a development that leads to more daring escapes, vivid newspaper stories, and touching friendships. Set in and around Coney Island and the Lower East Side of New York City in the 19th century, the novel is full of historical color while focusing on a tiny person whose courage and inner fortitude are very large, indeed. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-525-46263-5
Page count: 174pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1999