Reading/Interest Level: Preschool, Primary
Author: Chris Van Dusen
Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen
Publisher: Candlewick Press
When a circus ship sinks off the shore of Maine, the fifteen animals that were aboard drag themselves out of the water and stagger into the local village. The residents do not take a liking to them at first, but when the circus tiger saves a young girl from a burning building, they all start living in harmony. One day, the greedy circus owner shows up in search of the animals, but the townspeople hide them in plain sight. The owner leaves empty-handed and the animals are left to a peaceful life with the village folk.
The idea for this clever picture book was born from an actual event. It was not meant to retell the story of that tragic event, but instead tells of a new and whimsical adventure. It is written in rhymed text, and the caricatured illustrations, which were done in gouache, are colorful and captivating. Each page is full of details, and readers will enjoy searching for all fifteen animals in the spread when they are hiding from the circus owner. In a truly imaginative way, Van Dusen delivers a story of community and friendship.