Author: Cassie Beasley
Published January 1, 2015 by Dial
Do you believe in magic?
Micah Tuttle does.
Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather.
The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn’t want to keep his promise. And now it’s up to Micah to get the miracle he came for.
Ricki’s Review: I was only a few pages in when I knew this book would be special. I was captivated by the beautifully described setting and the words that seemed to dance off the pages. This book is about magic, but the writing is quite magical in itself. I usually give my ARCs away, but I am hanging on to this copy because I plan to read it to my son when he is a bit older. I’ll likely buy another copy because I am eager to see the illustrations! I suspect that this text will create lifelong readers. It belongs in every classroom in America. Circus Mirandus is the kind of book that takes you to another world—one that will stay in your heart forever.
Kellee’s Review: I liked Circus Mirandus from the very beginning, but as soon as the circus officially enters he story, the magic just engulfs you. I think it is the Lightbender that makes the story. He is a mystery, but also the person that I feel like I connected with the most. I truly feel that he is what makes this book as magical as it is. I also really liked Jenny. Jenny represents the main stream (which is odd to say because Jenny is a little bit odd), but Jenny has already moved past magic and is so straight forward. Convincing her to believe in anything past what she sees and knows was such a challenge for Micah. (But she is such a great friend!)
One of the things I really liked about the text is the theme of helping kids stay kids for as long as possible. Circus Mirandus is around to help keep the magic of childhood alive. That is something I can believe in!
Circus Mirandus was my informal Twitter book club’s choice for July, and I loved chatting with them about the book (and Ricki joined us this time!). To see the archive of our chat, you can view it here. (Warning: There are spoilers for the book in the chat.)
Some of my favorite quotes from the chat were:
“I loved that Jenny was willing to go along on the journey even if she had trouble believing.” -Alyson Beecher
–“Yes! That is what made me love her. She was willing to support her friend.” -Kellee Moye
–“And Jenny needed a friend, found something in herself that “might” want to believe, too?” -Linda Baie
–“I love how great Jenny and Micah are for each other…helping each other find courage and comfort.” -Beth Sanderson
“It was interesting that the light bender just dismissed G., rather as we all should dismiss evil people.” -Linda Baie
“I loved the relationship between Micah and Gpa. He had so many words of wisdom to prepare Micah.” -Leigh Anne Eck
–“The wonderful relationship between Micah and his Grandpa is what I will remember the most about this book.” -Cynthia Alaniz
“I don’t think we should hide kids from life truths like death. Kids need to be taught healthy ways to grieve.” -Ricki Ginsberg
“The artwork is special! It is interesting to read the Ch then look at the art & find the reasoning behind the art.” -Kellee Moye
–“Yes! There is something special when physical aesthetic of book matches aesthetic of the language.” -Christy Rush-Levine
Favorite quotes shared from the book:
“Because when you try too hard to hold on to something, you break it.”
“Who you are is more than good enough.”
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book naturally lends itself to a creative project. I would love to have students work together to design their own circus. Perhaps each student could be in charge of designing a different section of the circus and writing about it. For example, one student might be in charge of writing the opening speech for a circus act; another student could be in charge of writing a newspaper article about the events; another student might be in charge of writing to the mayor to ask permission to use a field for the circus. I’d allow students to generate their own ideas, so they can take ownership of their work.
However, the best place that this book could end up is in as many kids’ hands as possible! It deserves to be read and read widely.
Discussion Questions: What is Jenny’s role in the novel? How does she add to the story?; Do you think you would believe in the circus? Why or why not?; Which characters showed bravery? Why or why not?; What role does fantasy play in this text? How would it be different if it was a work of realistic fiction?
We Flagged: “You never need an invitation to go home.”
Read This If You Loved: Books by Roald Dahl, A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, Big Fish by Daniel Wallace, Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
**Thank you to Penguin for providing copies for review!**