Molly Brown is Not a Clown.
Linda Rogers and Rick Van Krugel.
Grades 4 - 6 / Ages 9 - 11.
Molly Brown is a girl with a problem - at least she sees it as a problem. It's not that her mother (Candace) is a single parent, or that they have to scrape to make ends meet. It's that her mother is a clown. Her mother's occupation is a source of deep embarrassment to Molly, although her closest friend and confidant, a boy named Trouper, finds Molly's mom kind of neat. Deep down, Molly too admires and respects Candace and her talent: she just wishes she'd act like a "normal" mom sometimes.
The other source of Molly's problem is lack of knowledge about her father. Mom won't talk about him, so Molly constructs a relationship based on tidbits she remembers from before her dad left, and on her imagination.
Molly decides that a clown she sees in the circus must be her dad, and she is determined to be reunited. The circus leaves town, and so Molly creates an elaborate plan, using her mom's clothes and clown makeup to make her and Trouper look like junior adults (Trouper becomes a girl!). They then steal Candace's car, and set off on an adventure that takes them on two ferries to Vancouver. There they are unmasked, they find out the truth about Molly's father, and Molly's family is reunited.
Molly Brown is Not a Clown is a pleasant read with good humour that will appeal to children in intermediate grades. It deals with the subject of AIDS, addressing the silence that surrounds the disease, but ends on a positive note. It is set in British Columbia, and the illegal car ride provides the reader with accurate descriptions of the islands, the ferries and the city of Vancouver. Trouper's Chinese-Canadian ancestry offers a believable subplot, and the friendship and conversations between Molly and Trouper reflect the closeness that can exist between two kids.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg.
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Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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