From School Library Journal
Gr 3-5–The owner of Sir Sidney's Circus needs a vacation, and after reviewing and interviewing many potential circus managers, he chooses Barnabas Brambles, a graduate of the University of Piccadilly Circus in London with a degree in lion taming. But Barnabas is in need of making money and changes Sir Sidney's Circus schedule and pricing for his own profit and treats the animals poorly. Things seem to go wrong almost from the start, and he cancels all but the final show of the week. Barnabas is a complete fraud and knows nothing of circus life, yet Sir Sidney believes that the scoundrel can be a better man tomorrow. Whimsical illustrations are generously positioned throughout the text and play a key role in the book's pacing. Beginning chapter-book readers will thoroughly enjoy this fun and fast-paced title, which has lessons in kindness along the way.–Patty Saidenberg, George Jackson Academy, New York Cityα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kate Klise, author of the wildly punny 43 Old Cemetery Road and Regarding series, turns to a slightly younger audience in this amusing series opener. After years of developing his traveling circus into one of the best shows in the world, old and tired Sir Sidney decides he needs some help. He hires Barnabas Brambles for a one-week trial run, but it’s clear that the smarmy certified lion tamer is more concerned with making money than respecting the performers and talking circus animals. When Brambles tries to add more cities to their tour, sell off some of the older animals, and allow the directionless Famous Flying Banana Brothers to navigate the circus train, plenty of high jinks ensue, including getting stuck atop the Saint Louis Arch. Playful black-and-white illustrations and creative language—in the form of sight gags, coined words, speech bubbles, letters, and phone texts—keep the story lively. Math teachers will especially appreciate Brambles’ profit calculations throughout. A big-top introduction to the author’s quirky humor. Grades 3-5. --Angela Leeper