274 pgs.Target audience: Young Adult
It’s 1939 and the circus has come to town, bringing wonders for all ages. Young Portia goes with her father who is so enamored with what he sees that when the group pulls up stakes to leave, he takes off as well promising to return. Thirteen-year-old Portia, now run all out of family members, is shunted off to live at McGreavey’s Home for Wayward Girls. She and her fellow occupants are treated as little more than slaves by the miserly director, only known as Mister. Driven to desperation, Portia sets out on her own determined to find the one family member she has left, her dad. Her only clue is an announcement for a nearby circus and sideshow. This is her chance, she thinks, surely she’ll find her dad there. Among the freaks, marvels and normals she finds a home. Her role is to help Jackal with the bally where she uses her storytelling skills to win over the crowd. The story is told predominantly from Portia’s perspective with occasional chapters told by performers at Mosco’s Traveling Wonder Show. Although this makes for a disjointed style, it gives more depth to her growing relationships with those at the circus and shows how her new family evolves. This is a unique and quaint story which will ignite young imaginations and foster dreams of living under the Big Top. (This book provided for review by Children's Lit www.childrenslit.com).