CM Archive
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Marie-Louise Gay.
Toronto, ON: Stoddart, 1989.
30pp., cloth, $14.95.
ISBN 0-7737-2285-8. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Pride and vanity-Fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8

Reviewed by Alison Mews.

Volume 18 Number 2
1990 March

Fat Charlie's Circus is a delightful new book from award-winning author/ illustrator Marie-Louise Gay. Fat Charlie is an irrepressible daredevil who is determined to become a circus performer and whose imaginative play includes lion taming, tightrope walking and juggling plates (unsuccessfully). When he defies his parents and attempts a Daring Dive Act, Fat Charlie learns there is more to becoming famous then he had anticipated. With the unexpected help of his grandmother, Fat Charlie manages a satisfactory solution to his dilemma.

Although I had misgivings about the adjective "fat," the story reassured me that Fat Charlie was simply his name rather then a nasty nickname. Indeed, all the cartoonlike characters have a similar build, and there is no emphasis on Fat Charlie's size. In fact, the positive image of the remarkable grandmother, especially with the twist at the end where she participates in the further antics of a thoroughly unchastened little boy, is to be applauded.

As in her other books, Gay's bright and zany illustrations depict the childlike world of the imagination. Her pictures spill out of the stage-like borders with comfortable clutter and invite repeated examination. The action in text and illustration is further extended by two mice who caper around the borders.

The exaggerated humour, familiar from Gay's other books, is also evident throughout - from the plump cat balancing on Fat Charlie's nose on the first page to the last picture of the mice, with tails entwined, perched on two halves of a broken egg. A wonderful story that begs to be shared with children.

Alison Mews, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NF.
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