Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
- Reading age: 9 to 12
Mandy dreams of a career in the circus, working as an aerialist who specializes in rope climbing. When she is accepted into the prestigious Montreal Circus College summer program, she feels that she is finally on her way to fulfilling her dreams. At circus camp she is befriended—and challenged—by young circus performers from around the world. Circus camp turns out to be a magical combination of work and play, but when a veteran aerialist is killed in a fall, Mandy must confront the reality of circus life.
About the author
MONIQUE POLAK is the author of 26 novels for young readers, as well as two non-fiction titles and a board book. Her books Hate Mail, Room for One More, and the historical novel What World is Left, which was inspired by her mother’s experience during the Holocaust, were all winners of the Quebec Writers’ Federation Prize for Children’s and YA Literature.
Her books have also been nominated for the Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction for Young People and the Arthur Ellis Award, and several have been selected as Best Books for Children and Teens by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.
She is also a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Macleans, and Postmedia newspapers across the country, and is a columnist on ICI Radio-Canada’s Plus on est de fous, plus on lit! Monique lives in Montreal, Quebec, where she teaches English and Humanities at Marianopolis College.
"An inspirational story...[that] tackles more than perseverance and ambition...[including] female competition, body image, and the pressure of gender expectations for young girls in society...The [Orca Limelights] stories are quick, bite-sized reads, but they pack a punch—the well-developed stories have relatable characters and entertaining plots. This book will appeal to a diverse audience of young female readers."
"With her strong dialogue and consistent narrative voice, Monique Polak succeeds in convincing the reader that a fifteen-year-old really is telling the story...Even if the YA reader is not interested in circus arts or gymnastics, this book is still a guaranteed fun read."
Montreal Review of Books
"One of a growing number of novellas focused on teens trying to become professional entertainers, and the choice of the circus as its subject certainly pops the book out of the norm. Full of interesting and varied characters, the story stands up well, and the author describes the difficult aerial maneuvers vividly. A quick read with a fascinating focus."
"Maintains an internal focus while offering an interesting glimpse behind the scenes of the circus world...Readers will get a taste of the hard work and danger that go into performing."
"Will hook readers from the first chapter...True to life and easy to grasp...A suspenseful plot, fascinating details, and a likable protagonist make this title a wonderful addition to hi-lo collections."
School Library Journal