This is a carnival story set in the 1950's. Television hasn't yet transcended the natural wonder a farm boy can have over a raggle-taggle midway show with its freaks and magician and sense of magic. Moser's pictures capture the spare beauty of the Ohio countryside, downplaying the farm people themselves for the exoticism of the carny performers.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Life changes dramatically one midsummer's day on a farm in Ohio when Bingleman's Midway rattles along Route 6 in run-down trucks. When they stop to fix a flat, Bingleman regales Nathan and his older brother, Drew, with tales of the midway's wonders. ``Buncha guff,'' Drew retorts. But when their father takes them to the carnival the next day and Drew sees the marvelous magic show, he sneaks out later that night to join up. Ackerman's long lyrical text beautifully captures the quiet of the farm abruptly shattered by the coming of the midway, Drew's initial nonchalance, his gradual fall under the spell of circus magic, and the understanding of a father who has felt such a tug himself. Moser's large watercolors faithfully depict farm life in the late '40s and early '50s. At times, though, the illustrations lag behind the text, as when the story has Bingleman in the farmhouse drinking coffee while the painting shows him walking up to the front door with Drew and his family. Pair this with Ian Wallace's Morgan the Magnificent (McElderry, 1988; o.p.), about another farm child caught up in the allure of the circus.-Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community-Technical College, CT
Susan Dove Lempke
A boy living in a rural community in Ohio gets shivery when he thinks about going to the traveling midway that has come to his town. He calls it a "buncha guff," but when he sees the mysterious Bingleman perform amazing tricks such as sawing a lady in half, he is captivated. That night, he sneaks away to join the carnival, discovering that his father is surprisingly understanding about his impulsive act. Today's highly stimulated, often skeptical youngsters may have a hard time seeing the lure of the midway, but Ackerman does a good job of portraying her narrator's conflicting feelings. Moser's richly saturated paintings play evocatively with light and darkness, and the book's centerpiece, two wordless spreads showing some of the acts--among them, fire-eating and toad-swallowing--have just the right note of creepy fascination. Moser's decision not to show the faces of the boy, his brother, or his father distances readers from the family, but it does focus attention on the glamorous carnival members.