Monday, May 19, 2008

It's Circus Day!

The Ringling Brothers Circus opened on this day in 1884 in Baraboo, Wisconsin. In 1907, The Ringling Brothers merged with the Barnum & Bailey Circus to become the Greatest Show on Earth! The show prospered greatly in the roaring twenties, but the Great Depression of the thirties brought a slow decline, along with changing public tastes in entertainment influenced by television and the movies. The circus gave its last performance under the big top in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 16, 1956. In 1967, Israel Feld bought the company and split the show into two touring units, a "Red Tour" and a "Blue Tour" which tour the country independently. This year, the Blue show began a two-year tour advertised as the "All-New" 138th Edition titled "Over the Top" featuring a "tug-of-war" between ringmaster Chuck Wagner and clown Tom Dougherty---traveling aboard a 61-car train stretching over 5,400 feet long.

The circus may not be what it used to be, but it is still loved by kids and no where is that more evident than in children's literature. Many of our most beloved characters/authors have been to or written about the circus. Here are a few to celebrate the day:

Books for younger readers

Curious George Goes to the Circus by Margret and H. A. Rey

If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss

Harold's Circus: An Astounding, Colossal Purple Crayon Event by Crockett Johnson

Peter Spier's Circus!

Circus by Lois Ehlert

Sidewalk Circus by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer

Emeline at the Circus by Marjorie Priceman

The Circus Lunicus by Marilyn Singer (poetry)

Books for older readers

When the Circus Came to Town by Laurence Yep, illustrated by Suling Wang

Circus Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

When the Circus Came to Town by Polly Horvath

The Circus of Words: Acrobatic Anagrams, Parading Palindromes, Wonderful Words on a Wire, and More Lively Letter Play by Richard Lederer, illustrated by Dave Morice


Circus: An Album by Linda Granfield

The Strongest Man in the World: Louis Cyr by Nicolas Debon

Ballet of the Elephants by Leda Schubert, illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker

Wild, Weird, and Wonderful: The American Circus 1901-1927, As Seen by F. W. Glasier, Photographer by Mark Sloan

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