The Greatest Show on Earth!

With the fall comes classes, extracurriculars, work and meetings, so life can feel a bit like a three-ring circus. It also means the Ringling Brothers circus is back in town September 20-23! Thinking of checking out a show, or just want to experience it vicariously? Check out these great reads that center around circuses, oddities and the extraordinary:

Sara Gruen writes about the tensions, surprises and the life behind the seeming glamour in her novel Water for Elephants. This engrossing read follows the life of the brilliant but cruel animal trainer, August; his beautiful equestrian star wife, Marlena; the young man, Jacob Jankowski, who falls in love with her; and Rosie, the elephant that changes their lives forever. Multiple formats are available, as well as a movie based on the book!



For those interested in the  human “oddities” of circuses, check out Ransom Riggs’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Sixteen-year-old Jacob finds himself with his ornithology-loving father on a remote island near Wales, where he discovers the ruins of a peculiar orphange that housed a strange kind of children. In a fantastical journey reminscient of the tesseract time travel of Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, Jacob sets out to meet these children and discovers himself along the way. Real photographs Riggs found in archives accompany the book, giving it a vintage and otherwordly feel. Rumor has it that a movie may be in the works!


For younger readers, try Splendors and Glooms by Newbery Award winner Laura Amy Schiltz. Schiltz tells the story of two orphaned children, Lizzie and Parse, apprenticed to a mysterious puppeteer, Gaspare Grisini, who makes his puppets seem to come to life. Their lives change when a rich young heiress disappears and all signs point to Grisini. A bespelling story!


Other Circus Favorites:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Adult)

Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby (Young Adult)

Lion Boy by Zizou Corder (Juvenile Fiction)

Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer (Picture Book)

Sidewalk Circus by Paul Fleishman and Kevin Hawkes (Picture Book)


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Written by Dawn

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