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Duke, a circus dwarf, takes Oregon, a circus bear, back home to Oregon
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Ages 5-8. The circus has always been a metaphor for nonconformists and wild creatures trapped and forced to entertain the crowd. The simple words and moving illustrations of this large-size picture book deliberately evoke images of fairy tales as well as of artists, from Van Gogh's cornfield to Robert Frost's snowy woods and Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind." A dwarf named Duke and a performing bear leave the circus ring and travel west to freedom in the snowy forests of Oregon. The dwarf, in clown face, tells how they hitch rides with other loners on the edge of society. Unlike Bushnell's Circus of the Wolves , about a man who helps a wolf escape, this is not a realistic story. Here the bear is part of the man, his other self; several pictures show that the bear is a huge shadow of the little clown. The bear talks, but only the clown hears him, and no one on the journey sees the great bear at the man's side. There's some sentimentality in the return to the idyllic wilderness from the polluted city, but children will be moved by the fantasy and the dwarf's yearning that he might meet Snow White. When a truck driver asks Duke why he wears his white makeup and red nose even when he's left the circus, he replies, "Because they've become a part of me. . . . It isn't easy being a dwarf." There's something of Chaplin in this melancholy outsider's search for home. Hazel RochmanFrom School Library Journal:
Kindergarten-Grade 2-A clown named Duke and Oregon, a performing bear, leave the circus in order to find a more suitable home for the animal. They travel westward by bus, car, foot, and train, until finally they reach some beautiful woods in the state of Oregon. The animal has found his home and forgets his years of captivity, and Duke wanders off, happy to have helped his friend. Duke tells his story in a serious and straightforward manner. Humorous moments, such as when the bear depletes Duke's savings by eating 300 hamburgers, are mild and neatly understated. The journey proves to be liberating for the man as well; in the final scene he discards his clown nose at last. Joos's vivid illustrations inject a dreamy atmosphere into the simple tale. As the pair pass factory towns and roam through wheat fields, readers get vivid glimpses of American landscapes. Text and pictures fairly successfully convey the mood of this cross-country trek by two friends, but the melancholy expressions on the characters' faces at times belie the enjoyment suggested in parts of the narrative. The subtle simplicity of the plot should result in a small, but appreciative audience.
Steven Engelfried, West Lynn Library, OR
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Troll Communications, 1998. Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110816733066
Book Description Troll Communications. PAPERBACK. Condition: New. 0816733066 New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW7.1348144
Book Description Troll Communications, 1998. Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0816733066