59. The Circus Lunicus by Marilyn Singer
Publication: Henry Holt and Co. (October 1, 2000), Hardcover, 168pp / ISBN 0805062688
Genre: Children’s, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Read: March 7, 2010
Summary from Amazon:
Solomon Yanish has it rough. His mother has disappeared from his life, his father is constantly away on business trips, and now Solly is stuck with two crabby stepbrothers and an evil stepmother he calls Old Staircase. What’s worse, Solly can’t seem to get a straight answer about his family’s past. But who’s keeping it from him, and why?
Enter The Circus Lunicus, and Freeble — a fairy godmother in shrink-wrapped disguise. Suddenly things start to make sense. Until some strange transformations begin . . . Can Solly uncover the mystery behind his heritage before the circus leaves town?
This is such a weird little book. One the one hand I really liked it because it’s so weird, but on the other hand it’s not so well-written. I liked the idea, and for much of the book I was enthralled in the plot. But it lost me by the end, and that ending is why I think it’s got problems with the writing. Also, there’s some issues with the characterization.
Problems first, I think:
1. Solly’s step-mother and brothers are seriously cliched. Possibly this is because Ms Singer is going for a Cinderella connection, but still. Seriously cliched.
2. The ending happened very quickly and I still didn’t even completely understand it. Partly this is because I didn’t understand the BIG REVELATION that happens somewhere right before the end, which I can’t talk about because it’s a spoiler. Also there was another cliched thing, which I also can’t talk about.
So basically there were cliches everywhere, with confusing elements, and that dragged the whole book down. But the things I liked?
1. The weirdness. It’s really weird, especially when Freeble starts teaching Solly magic, but it’s a great kind of weird that I would have loved as a kid. Remember Bruce Coville’s My Teacher is an Alien series? It’s along that same line.
2. The circus theme. I love anything to do with circuses (except maybe clowns), and though there wasn’t a lot of it actually in The Circus Lunicus, I enjoyed that part anyway.
So, I don’t know. If I was a kid I think I would have enjoyed this more because I wouldn’t have been as aware of the cliched parts like I am now, after reading a bazillion books with the same sorts of characters in them. I suppose I’m just a little bit too old for The Circus Lunicus!
Other reviews: Have you reviewed this book? Let me know and I’ll link to it from my own post!
Man, being too old for certain books makes me feel crappy. I want to enjoy every book, even ones for young readers. But sometimes the writing style just isn’t for me, when it’s a younger kids book. That’s why I can’t read the Magic Treehouse book, even though I really wanted to enjoy them. 🙁