The plot and the humor here, such as they are, rest on the pretense that clowns are clowns, not just on the job but 24 hours a day. Thus the members of Rudy's family go around ""bumping into each other and falling down. . . piling in and out of little cars,"" and so on--and Rudy is sent off to school in his ruff-collared clown suit, with a painted smile and a cherry on his nose. Well, ""a real class clown"" is just what prim old teacher Miss Skreech has always dreaded; and the more the children laugh at Rudy and his animal tag-alongs, the more worried she gets--until his trick-flower gift squirts her in the nose and, unaccountably, breaks her up. The next day, after lessons in giggling, jokes, and silly faces, Miss Skreech takes the whole class off to the circus. It might be funny if Rudy's pranks were more inspired, or if the butterscotch and raspberry-colored illustrations were more forceful. (They do have a lot of jokey detail, but it doesn't come through.) As it is, the effect is more tepid than zany.