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*A Small Surprise* by Louise Yates
Also by Louisa Yates:

Dog Loves Counting
A Small Surprise
by Louise Yates
Ages 2-5 40 pages Knopf May 2009 Hardcover    

Rabbit wants to work at the circus with the gigantic gorilla, the seriously savage snake, and the beastly balancing bear, but he’s only a small rabbit, and the help-wanted sign says ‘small animals need not apply.’ Though he sees the sign, he ignores it. He will show the biggest, tallest, longest and largest animals in the circus just what he can do!

The poster outside the circus grounds calls the Magnificent Menagerie savage, fierce, and beastly, but the circus animals in this book do not match these descriptions. All of them have red cheeks (as if they are permanently blushing) and wide-open eyes. The snake and giraffe’s tongues hang out of their mouth in every picture, and many of the animals are drawn looking happy or smiling. They are a supportive group of circus animals, some still learning their trade.

When Rabbit shows up, they help him prepare for his tightrope walk because he’s too young to tie his own shoes and he needs help with his red rubber nose. One act he doesn’t need help with, though, is his magic act. His disappearing and reappearing trick amazes them all, and baffles a few. Rabbit’s magic act turns the Magnificent Menagerie into the Magical Menagerie.

This rabbit is young and small, but he has confidence and perseverance. He bows before Snake, Gorilla, Lion, Giraffe, Bear and Rhinoceros when he first meets them, then proceeds to audition for them. He doesn’t ask for help when he falters but he gets a helping hand when needed - and later, a pie for a job well done.

The few words on each page of A Small Surprise appear in large bold type. Some lines of text are arranged under the tightrope in a straight line; other words appear around the different images on the page. The word small is decorated with dots, and the words disappear and reappear are decorated with stars. The dots and the stars combine on the last page and appear in the word magic.

Although most of the backgrounds are white, pink and blue splashes of color make shadows and backdrops for some of the animals. Created with drawings that add drama and humor to a simple story, A Small Surprise will encourage children to go after their own dreams - no matter their size or age.

Louise Yates has been writing and drawing since she was a child. A graduate of the Oxford University in England, Louise lives in London. A Small Surprise is her first book.

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  Tanya Boudreau/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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