A 7-year-old girl goes to live with a traveling circus when her mom gets a job there.
Piper isn’t sure she’s going to like the circus. She tries to make friends with Lexie, but Lexie isn’t interested. However, Piper meets the elephant, Ella, and becomes enchanted by the huge, friendly animal. When she learns that she can become one of the Little Explorers, a dance troupe made up of circus children, Piper decides to become the best Little Explorer ever. However, despite diligent practice, when the real performance starts in front of the huge audience, Piper becomes terrified and ruins the show. Lexie, a veteran of the Little Explorers, is not nice about it. Fortunately, Big Top Bubba, the elephant handler, and Ella show her that everyone makes mistakes, and in the circus all the other performers will help. Piper tries again—and missteps again. Can Piper think of a way to save the day? Faris allows Piper to express her turbulent emotions, completely appropriate to an energetic, excited 7-year-old, while delivering a life lesson in how to respond to embarrassment and making mistakes. Fleming’s happy, sweet drawings bring the action to life, though they do little to reflect the multiculturalism of a true circus; Piper, Lexie, and the other principals appear to be white. At the end of each chapter, the author inserts a page of facts about the circus.
A fun and wise little romp under the big top. (Fiction. 6-9)