Children's LiteratureThis biography is not just a re-telling of P. T. Barnum's life, but includes strategically placed historical facts throughout. Most people think of a charlatan when they hear the name P.T. Barnum. Karen Warrick presents a well-written and well-documented book that portrays this circus legend as a successful businessman and a gentle, benevolent person. Beginning with the acquisition of the most famous elephant, Jumbo, Warrick leads us into the life of Phineas Taylor Barnum and his accumulation of people, animals and curiosities for the entertainment of the public in America and Europe during the mid to late 1880s. Little known facts about his life are given well-earned publicity, such as his brief stint as mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut, his friendships with Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain, and his refusal to let political defeat and fires destroy his goals to provide quality entertainment. Each chapter includes brief and entertaining tidbits about Barnum's life, giving credence to his influence on pleasing audiences and persevering through life's trials. A concise chronology of P. T. Barnum's life, a glossary and a bibliography, including Internet sites for further research, round out the book. I believe Mr. Barnum would be pleased to read this biography of his life. The book is one in the series "Historical American Biographies." 2001, Enslow, $20.95. Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Elizabeth Young
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 5 Up-How Barnum grew from a barefoot boy in a bankrupt family to become the wealthy "Prince of Humbugs," later "morphing" into the charitable "Friend of Children" is a fascinating story. Running neighborhood lotteries, sharpening his bartering skills, and studying how to use the foibles of humans in the good-natured give-and-take of general stores, Barnum learned to make entertainment acceptable in America's Puritan-influenced atmosphere by cloaking it as education. Warrick's mostly chronological account is wide-ranging, going beyond colorful storytelling to emphasize Barnum's early and innovative use of publicity and advertising. The author is successful at giving a sense of why her subject is important. Black-and-white reproductions, photos, and maps are included. For readers who like a sustained narrative, the positioning of text encircled by a quill-and-line device may seem slightly disruptive. While Catherine M. Andronik's Prince of Humbugs (Macmillan, 1994) is smoother and more detailed, it is for more sophisticated readers. Warrick's offering is a good and informative choice for readers who prefer a "skinny book."-Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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