Synopses & Reviews
Smalls the sun bear and his friends are an unusual bunch. That's why they're known as the Misfit Menagerie. The four oddball animals live on Mr. Mumford's farm, where they play games and do tricks for neighborhood children. It's an idyllic existence--until a cruel circus owner named Claude Magnificence comes to town, and life as they know it ends. The Menagerie is snatched away to a traveling circus, where Claude and his buffoonish sidekicks force them to perform death-defying tricks.
At the circus, Smalls and his friends only have slop to eat. They live in filthy, cramped cages. And they're bullied by a rough band of trained animals called the Lifers. It's worse than awful--it's despicable! But then young Bertie Magnificence comes along, and he and Smalls form the kind of friendship that inspires hope. They decide that something needs to change...and fast. With the help of an acrobat named Susan, Smalls and Bertie set in motion a heroic plan.
Can a lonely boy and a misfit bear hoodwink cruel Claude and save an entire circus of captive animals?
"The sun has not shined for 1,728 days and counting in YA author Oliver's (Delirium) first book for middle-grade readers, a gloominess that underscores a plot in which adults seek personal gain at the expense of children. Classic fairy tale elements weave throughout this spirited, old-fashioned adventure: a young girl locked in an attic, a wicked stepmother, an alchemist, an orphan boy running from a cruel master. Add two nearly identical boxes one containing the ashes of 11-year-old Liesl's recently deceased father, the other holding 'the Most Powerful Magic in the World' and mix them up, and excitement begins to break through the bleakness. Po, a presence from 'the Other Side,' brings Liesl a message to bury her father's ashes underneath a certain willow tree, inspiring her to escape her imprisonment in her stepmother's attic and head for the train. An exhilarating chase ensues, as characters pursue the runaway children and the mixed-up boxes. Invigorating and hopeful, this novel testifies to the power of friendship and generosity to conquer greed and depression. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Liesl lives in a tiny attic bedroom, locked away by her cruel stepmother. Her only friends are the shadows and the mice until one night a ghost appears from the darkness. It is Po, who comes from the Other Side. Both Liesl and Po are lonely, but together they are less alone.
That same night, an alchemist's apprentice, Will, bungles an important delivery. He accidentally switches a box containing the most powerful magic in the world with one containing something decidedly less remarkable.
Will's mistake has tremendous consequences for Liesl and Po, and it draws the three of them together on an extraordinary journey.
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver comes a luminous and magnificent novel that glows with rare magic, ghostly wonders, and a true friendship that lights even the darkest of places.
The Tale of Despereaux
meets Water for Elephants
in this heartfelt adventure story!
Smalls the sun bear and his friends Tilda (an angora rabbit), Rigby (a komondor dog), and Wombat (a wombat) happily while away their days under Mr. Mumford's doting guardianship. That is, until one fateful evening when Mumford, loopy from elderberry wine, loses his prized animals in a bet against Claudius Magnificence in Texas Hold 'Em. The dastardly "Grand Master Claude" seizes Smalls and the others, forcing them to join his traveling circus. In the circus caravan, they're crammed into a tiny slop car and forced to perform ridiculous tricks for money. Bertie, Claude's young nephew, is the only bright spot in the animals' otherwise miserable lives. When Bertie uncovers a dark secret about Claude, he and Smalls set in motion a heroic plot to help the animals escape their tyrant and find their way home.
About the Author
Lauren Oliver is the author of the YA bestselling novels Before I Fall, Panic, and Vanishing Girls and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem, which have been translated into more than thirty languages and are New York Times and international bestselling novels. She is also the author of three novels for middle grade readers: The Spindlers; Liesl & Po, which was an E. B. White Read Aloud Award nominee; and Curiosity House: The Shrunken Head, co-written with H. C. Chester, and a novel for adults, Rooms. A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYUs MFA program, Lauren Oliver is also the cofounder of the boutique literary development company Paper Lantern Lit.