The antics found in “Circus Cannelloni Invades Britain” are a light, fun treat for young readers; Tuula Pere plays to her strengths to tell a compelling story about family and the power of working together.
“Circus Cannelloni Invades Britain” is a follow up to Pere’s “Mr. Cannelloni’s Circus.” Both stories follow the Cannelloni family-run circus as they jump through hoops to maintain a happy, successful life together. In this installment, the family has finally saved enough money to take a big trip to England, where they bring their grandchildren. Along their journey, the Cannelloni’s get caught up in all sorts of hijinks, from crashing a horse race and a tennis tournament, to putting their powers of persuasion to the test against some especially tricky audiences. As always, their adventures bring the family closer together in the end, each member learning something about themselves and the world.

On the longer side of Pere’s body of work (and written for a slightly older audience), “Circus Cannelloni Invades Britain” proves the prolific author’s versatility. Although its themes are lighter and more straightforward than much of Pere’s work, the book’s plot is as engaging as ever; it’s refreshing to see Pere spend more time with multiple characters and settings. Although inter-generational connection makes its way into most of Pere’s work, it lives in the pages of “Circus Cannelloni Invades Britain” in a special way. Given the absence of any intermediary parent characters, we see the Cannelloni’s connect with their grandchildren in ways that highlight the pureness of the relationship between child and grandparent — a theme Pere often includes but does not emphasize. The character dynamics of the book otherwise highlight the power of teamwork and the importance of family more generally.

Another refreshing component of this book is Pere’s choice to illustrate it herself. Much like the tone of the book, the artwork is much lighter and joyful than that of many of her other books, employing brighter colors and a more playful art style that will make you feel like you’ve been thrust into the middle of an old-timey cartoon. Many of the individual pictures perfectly accompany some of the book’s funniest moments. The book’s standout feature, which strangely almost feels out of place, is its prose style; Pere has a way of writing with simple elegance that gives her story a unique sensibility, but may go underappreciated by younger audiences reading the book themselves. Fortunately, this sensibility is reflected in the book’s characters and captured by its illustrations, allowing us to appreciate it without needing to understand it. This quality is what makes Pere’s writing so great for younger audiences.

“Circus Cannelloni Invades Britain” keeps it light and offers a fun, engaging story about a quirky family who can’t seem to stay out of trouble — a great read for parents looking to teach their children about the importance of inter-generational bonds and accepting your differences.