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BOOK LIST: Best Books about Circuses for Children

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

To celebrate the success of The Sequin Star, the new YA timeslip adventure written by my sister Belinda, I asked her to prepare a list of the best books about circuses for kids. I remember reading all of these!

Here they are:

Mr Galliano’s Circus by Enid Blyton was one of my favourite books when I was young. I loved reading about the adventures of Jimmy Brown, who leaves his everyday, suburban life behind when his Dad gets a job as the circus carpenter. Jimmy makes friends with the naughty, mischievous circus girl called Lotta. The circus is filled with colourful characters like the ringmaster, Mr Galliano and lots of wonderful animal performers. I particularly loved Jemima the monkey, and remember begging for a pet monkey of my own. Lotta is a delightful character – a bareback trick rider who teaches Jimmy how to perform in the circus ring. Enid Blyton wrote several other books set in circuses, including Hurrah for the Circus and The Circus of Adventure

Circus Ring was written by Mary Grant Bruce in 1936 but is set in a horse drawn circus in the 1890s. The two primary characters are Hugh Russell and Nina Peterson, child performers in Peterson’s Circus. The book follows the ups and downs of the circus performers as they travel through the Australian countryside. It is a story of hardship and adventure set in an old-time travelling circus. 

The Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene was a big favourite in our house, so I particularly enjoyed The Ringmaster’s Secret, when Nancy is sleuthing a mystery involving a long lost gold charm bracelet, an orphaned trapeze artist and various circus villains. To solve the mystery, Nancy goes undercover as a bareback circus rider, and of course she performs like a seasoned professional. During her adventures she is attacked, kidnapped from the circus and finally imprisoned in the lion’s cage before the ringmaster’s secret is solved. 

Five Go Off in a Caravan, was one of my favourite Famous Five adventures. Once again Enid Blyton writes a rollicking adventure story amongst the colourful characters of a circus. George, Julian, Dick, Anne and Timmy the dog, set off on a holiday in two horse drawn gypsy caravans, blissfully free of any interfering parents. They stumble across a circus camp and make friends with Nobby, the circus boy, his performing dogs and Pongo the chimpanzee. Of course, as well as loveable circus performers, there are villains and mysteries aplenty.  

Know any other great books about circuses for kids? I'd love to hear about them!

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