Reviews for Daring Escape of the Misfit Menagerie

Booklist Reviews 2012 December #2
The idyllic existence of an unusual assortment of animals--a sun bear, a Komondor dog, an Angora rabbit, and a wombat--abruptly halts when their caretaker gambles them away to a cruel circus owner. The animals are treated poorly at the circus and plot escape with the help of two children who have also been held captive by the evil owner. The jolly nature and comic repartee of the animals and the occasional cartoon illustration give this a lighthearted tone; however, the abuse is harsh, infusing darkness and a sinister kernel into the core of the story. The distinctive and engaging animal characters will draw readers in and have them rooting for a successful escape from the awful circus. The getaway comes late in the story and culminates with an expanded menagerie on the lam, leaving the resolution up in the air and providing ample opportunity for further adventures. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
When Smalls, a sun bear, and his misfit animal friends are abducted by despicable Claude Magnificence, a story of circus animal abuse ensues. As Smalls's group learns to perform tricks, they make friends with two children and slowly build enough trust with the other circus animals--the "Lifers"--to plan an elaborate escape. Occasional pen-and-wash illustrations help ground the over-the-top story.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 October #2
Years ago, stories of boys running away from home to join the circus were popular. This tale turns tail as an indentured boy and "misfit" animals try to run away from the circus. The title sets up the plot, so readers know what will eventually happen. The misfits are Bertie, 11; Smalls, a long-tongued honey bear; Rigby, a moplike white Komondor dog; Tilda, a white Angora rabbit; and Wombat, a hairy-nosed wombat who's in love with Tilda. They were acquired by hook and crook by Bertie's villainous Uncle Claude, the epitome of mean, who gulps cocoa by the urn-full, abuses all of the animals and wants to sell the circus. His two right-hand but wrong-headed men, twins Loyd and Lloyd, cower at every command. There's even romance, as Bertie is smitten by Susan, who performs a cruelly hand-blistering rope act. Each animal has a distinct personality, and they talk to one another but not to the humans. Even though the "lifer" animals (elephant, lions, monkey, zebra) resent them when the misfits begin to perform, they aid in the fiery finale and escape. Pure melodrama with stereotypical villains in a circus setting; the appeal of talking animals with dabs of humor from the twin twits make for a good old-fashioned story. (Animal fantasy. 9-11) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 November #1

Resnick's warmhearted debut features a cocoa-loving villain, a kind but lonely orphan boy, and a bevy of talking animals (who cannot be understood by humans) that lives happily together as the star attractions of Mumford's Farm & Orchard. While the title is misleading (the "daring escape" doesn't occur until the last few chapters), the book is filled with secret plots, adventures, and acts of bravery and loyalty--as well as dastardly deeds. Resnick's third-person narration peeks inside the heads of several characters, both human and animal, including the gentle bear Smalls, de facto leader of the "misfit menagerie" that suddenly becomes part of a cruelly managed circus, and 10-year-old Bertie, the orphan, whose heartless uncle is its owner. Stopping just short of slapstick and caricature, Resnick sets a lively pace and draws tender characterizations (the animals each bear a distinctive, lovable personality), creating a spirited tale that cleanly separates the good guys from the bad without getting too dark or frightening. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. Agent: Josh Adams, Adams Literary. (Dec.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 February

Gr 4-6--Smalls the bear and his coterie of animal friends-Rigby the dog, Tilda the rabbit, and Wombat the wombat-lead a happy life on Mumford's Farm & Orchard. Mumford has a weakness for gambling and booze, though, and loses the animals in a card game to an evil circus proprietor named Claude Magnificence. He whisks them off in his crumbling caravan and forces them to learn tricks to perform in his show. Smalls and company are mistreated and miserable, but the one bright spot is Claude's kindhearted, 10-year-old nephew. Bertie is also mistreated by his uncle, and he and Smalls bond over their shared sense of sorrow and loneliness. Eventually, they plan a daring escape. Nail-biting moments follow as readers race to find out whether or not the pair succeeds. Resnick's debut novel is propelled by sweet, gentle Smalls and Bertie, giving the book a sense of innocence and wonder despite the raw depictions of the mistreatment of circus animals. Claude is the opposite of Smalls and Bertie, and in him Resnick creates a villain that readers will love to hate. No new territory is covered here, but the novel may appeal to readers who enjoy their protagonists on the furry side. Atmospheric illustrations appear throughout.--Amy Holland, Irondequoit Public Library, NY

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