Freddie Mole: Lion tamer by Alexander McCall-Smith

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Bloomsbury, 2016. ISBN 9781408865859
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. Humour. Circuses. Adventure. Lions. Freddie wants to help out his parents. His mum works on ships and is often away months at a time, and dad works hard but it never makes quite enough to cover the needs of his family and those of his injured brother. So when Freddie is offered a holiday job at the circus he accepts wholeheartedly. Here is the answer to his family's problems. He is well able to help out around the circus, but when he realises that the work involves being the understudy for some of acts, he is dumbfounded. But his 'can-do' attitude overcomes his fear and he succeeds where those before him have given up. So he climbs the ladder to reach the platform where he is to be swung between the trapeze artists and braves the lions in the lion taming act.
Readers will have their hearts in their mouths as he realises that the net has not been activated beneath the trapeze artists, or that he must be the lion tamer in the lion's act when the lion tamer runs off to Peru. But all works out well in the end, with the lions so old that they have lost their teeth and their claws worn down with age, and a proud mum and dad in the audience.
Freddie is an exuberant, positive young lad, and easily engages the reader with his fears which must be overcome for the good of the family. The illustrations add to the fun of the tale and a conservation message lies beneath some of the circus details. A stress on being positive is a winner in this charming story for middle primary people.
Fran Knight