In this feel-good story, an older brother helps his younger sibling navigate the first day of circus school.
Even at regular school, the first day can seem very chaotic, and for this dark-skinned, Afro-haired sibling duo, it is no different at circus school. Beginning with choosing the right clothes (the child tries on a daredevil suit, a ringmaster’s outfit, a cat costume, and several types of clown suit) and eating a balanced breakfast (literally—it’s a teetering tower of bowls and plates), the first day is made easier for the unnamed protagonist thanks to this big brother who declares he will “show you the ropes.” With a limited palette of bright yellow, turquoise, fuchsia, and gray, these retro-flavored digital illustrations are playful and inviting, providing details that expand on the text and make literal what could be read as metaphorical. “The bus has an ENDLESS number of seats,” declares the big brother, and the illustration depicts a smiling multitude of child clowns piling out of a yellow VW Beetle. Similarly, the “tall kid” the big brother warns his sibling “not to sit behind” is an elephant. Both adults and children depicted in this unusual school are racially diverse.
Whether getting ready for school themselves or relating to the comfort of having a loved one as a guide, young readers will enjoy this upbeat twist on the genre. (Picture book. 4-8)