From School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-In this blend of magical realism and historical fiction set in 1942 New England, 11-year-old orphan Bee travels with a carnival, assisting her guardian at the hot-dog stand and shielding the diamond-shaped birthmark on her face from stares and taunts. She longs for a real home to share with Pauline, who taught her to read and keeps a notebook about Bee's childhood. When Pauline and her new boyfriend are sent away by the sinister carnival owner to establish another show, Bee runs away with runt pig Cordelia and stray dog Peabody. She comes upon an inviting old house and is welcomed by two elderly women only she can see: Mrs. Potter, whom Bee has "glimpsed" before when in need of comfort, and Mrs. Swift, a prickly suffragette. Settling in, Bee starts school, is placed in a class for the disabled, makes a friend in leg-brace-wearing Ruth Ellen and an enemy in bully Francine, discovers startling secrets about her own family, and gradually develops self-sufficiency even as her old "aunts" begin to fade. While many of the motifs are derivative and the plot is predictable, the elements come together in a satisfying story, narrated in the unique voice of a spunky and endearing heroine. The writing is often lyrical, chapters are short, and details of the time period add interest and texture. Fans of Kate DiCamillo, Jennifer Holm, and Polly Horvath will find this an enjoyable and engrossing read.-Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Bee goes to great pains to hide her facial birthmark from the world. And no wonder: people are overly curious or just outright mean. Take the menacing Ellis, who uses the orphaned child in his traveling carnival as a potential freak-show attraction. Bee, meanwhile, helps run the show’s hot-dog stand and lives in a hauling truck. Just as the sheer bleakness of Bee’s situation threatens to overwhelm the plot, allies emerge among the traveling crew to help her find strength. The story then takes a fanciful turn as two feisty ancestors, whom no one else can see, empower Bee and lead her to a real home. Fusco’s unique WWII-era coming-of-age tale delicately balances the cruel challenges flung at Bee with the resilience and fight she gradually develops. Whether it be everyday bullies, a school system that fails her, or abandonment and loss, Bee’s supporters stand with her, one challenge at a time. A unique feel-good story about an appealing heroine, her rallying angels, and the search for love and home. Grades 4-8. --OMalley, Anne