Anyone who has experience with youngsters knows they have a ton of energy and tiny attention spans. Getting them to sit down and read a book with you can be difficult when those busy bodies are on the go. That is what makes Song of the Circus by Lois Duncan so wonderful. My three-year-old stepson not only sat through the whole story; he made me read it to him over and over again! Duncan, the award-winning author of more than 40 books for teens, adults and children, takes readers on a colorful journey through the circus. From the man who gets shot out of a cannon to trapeze artists, animals and clowns, she introduces readers to a vivid gallery of performers. At the center of the story are Gisselda and Bop, two kids growing up under the big top. They have an unforgettable run-in with a snarling tiger that, through a crazy chain of events, ends when an elephant crashes into his cage: The Elephant crashed with an awful THUD (with bumps and bruises, though not much blood) But the cage was shattered, the Tiger OUT! He bared his teeth as he whirled about. The Tiger, hungry for small children, goes after Gisselda and Bop. Showing their bravery, the circus children tell the Tiger to STOP! , putting him in his place as the whole crowd cheers. Duncan's rhyming couplets wind and twirl through Cundiff's vibrantly colored illustrations. The characters capture the attention and imagination of young people and adults alike. One of the most impressive pages introduces Gisselda, along with the tattooed man. Reading the tattoos and admiring the detail make for marvelous fun.

With their whimsical circus characters and delightful animals, Cundiff's illustrations contribute to the book's overall appeal. Cundiff, who lives in a Kansas barn with two cats and two rabbits, includes her pets in the drawings a wonderful personal touch. If you're looking for the perfect picture book to entice your energetic children, look no further. Put Duncan's book to the test it's almost as good as a trip to the circus. Karen Van Valkenburg is a book publicist in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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