Thursday, September 24, 2015

Book Review: The Show Must Go On

Kate and M. Sarah Klise (their last name rhymes with mice, a detail I gleaned from this book, to correct my longstanding mental image of a "kleece" pronunciation) have built a long-standing tradition of producing humorous, pun-filled books for kids. With almost twenty books of combined effort prior to this one, they have always managed to capture childish whimsy and create clever verbal play. This new series, The Three Ring Rascals series, so far is just not up to the standard they have set for themselves.

It began pleasantly enough with a circus full of lovable animals and a sweet, old owner, Sir Sidney. Wishing to take a vacation, Sir Sidney seeks out a new manager for his circus. He hires a man, Barnabas Brambles, who is only concerned with making more cash. Barnabas clearly doesn't give a fig for the animals or the little critters (the rascals referred to in the series name) who tag along with the circus. He is determined to milk the opportunity for all it is worth, yet makes one bad decision after another.

As an adult reading the Klise sisters' children's books, I have always found something humorous enough to draw me into the story and have delighted in their ability to teach kids something while tickling their funny bone. This book does teach lessons of kindness, forgiveness, and second chances, and perhaps kids will react differently (indeed, on Amazon, there are only four and five star reviews and on one of the later books in the series, a teacher wrote that her third grade students love the books), but this story just didn't delight me as much as their past fare. Indeed, if you want to begin with their best offerings, I'd recommend you check out their first series, the Regarding the Fountain series. Perhaps I simply missed the clever use of puns or perhaps it is just that this series is aimed at younger ages, 7-10. Hopefully, this is just a bump in the road, but I'm not sure I'll be looking for the next book in this particular series. My hopes are pinned on another Regarding the Fountain book or a book to continue the 43 Old Cemetery Road series.

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