Gift Guide

Sidewalk Circus


"This delightful book will fascinate children and help them to see their world with new eyes." -- SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Step right up and witness an astounding assemblage of tightrope walkers, strong men, sword swallowers, and clowns. The Garibaldi Circus is coming soon, but for those with clear eyes, the performers may already be in the ring. So get ready to sharpen your vision and look very closely -- a show like you’ve ...

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"This delightful book will fascinate children and help them to see their world with new eyes." -- SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Step right up and witness an astounding assemblage of tightrope walkers, strong men, sword swallowers, and clowns. The Garibaldi Circus is coming soon, but for those with clear eyes, the performers may already be in the ring. So get ready to sharpen your vision and look very closely -- a show like you’ve never seen is about to begin! The creators of WESLANDIA are back in the spotlight with a spectacular, wordless picture book that shows the transformative power of imagination.

A young girl watches as the activities across the street from her bus stop become a circus.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a new direction for the team behind Weslandia, Hawkes provides studied, atmospheric paintings to go with Fleisch-man's wistful, nearly wordless story. In the sunlight and blue shadows of the waking day, a girl arrives at a city bus stop as a poster-hanger starts putting up circus advertisements. "Coming soon... World-renowned... Garibaldi Circus!!!!" announces the theater marquee across the street. Small, oval spot paintings show the waiting passengers in shades of gray. Only the girl appears in color; only she sees that the circus has already started, and that admission is free. One-and-a-half-page, full-bleed spreads portray the performers, ordinary working folks every bit as talented as the circus acts whose posters they mimic. Near a poster for "The Great Tebaldi, Prince of Tightrope Walkers," a construction worker walks an I-beam while carrying two buckets. A burly deliveryman hauls a side of beef into the butcher shop right next to a poster for "Goliath the Strongman." Skateboard-riding toughs ape "The Colombo Clowns"; the girl laughs and applauds their tricks. Hawkes's paintings combine in a most distinctive way a feeling of weight with the dreamy light of early morning. The girl's bus comes, she leaves; a boy arrives, and the "circus" begins again. Children will take pleasure in the story's appreciation of their own ability to see the wonder of the world around them. Ages 5-9. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
A child sits waiting for a bus on a busy city street when something catches her eye: a marquee saying, "Coming Soon...World-Renowned Garibaldi Circus!!!!." Or, has it already arrived? A solitary man wielding a cart of circus flyers becomes, in her imagination, the ringmaster, a steel worker on a high steel girder could not have a more death-defying job than a tight rope walker. The delivery man hefting a side of beef becomes the circus strong man. Lost in her world, the girl claps and cheers as a couple of skate-borders enact a slapstick comedy routine right into the fruit stand in front of Leo's Market where a circus clown poster hangs on the wall. What does this charming picture book have in mind for a dentist office, painter on a ladder, and short order cook flipping pancakes? Look for the circus poster to find out and be sure to look twice at the "performers'" shadows. Except for the posters that are part of the illustration, this book has no text, nor does it need any. The illustrations are Edward Hopper-esque with a touch of whimsy; they are lovely and spare, telling their own tales. What an enchanting book for a preschool classroom, or grandparent's house, where two generations can cuddle up to see what comes next. 2004, Candlewick Press, and Ages 3 to 6.
—Judy Crowder
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 5-As posters advertising the world-renowned Garibaldi circus are put up along a busy city block, a girl waiting for a bus watches the circus of everyday life unfold. There is no actual text to the book, just the words of store signs, a scrolling theater marquee, and the show bills. What the girl imagines is revealed through the playful shadows of the people on the street and the corresponding circus flyers. For example, as a chef flips pancakes into the air in the caf , the corresponding poster promises "Fantastic feats of juggling." As a young man delivers a side of beef, his shadow is that of the strongman, featured on the neighboring poster. Fleischman has the incredible gift of always finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. To communicate his vision so successfully in a virtually wordless book is an amazing feat, with as much credit due to the illustrator. Hawkes's richly colored acrylic paintings sustain interest and pacing throughout the book, changing perspective, giving readers close-ups and then views further back. Vignettes of the girl waiting on the bench convey her growing sense of wonder as she discovers the parallels with the everyday. Appropriately enough, as she leaves on the bus at the end of the book, her place is taken by a wide-eyed boy who seems destined to find new parallels of his own. This delightful book will fascinate children and help them to see their world with new eyes.-Robin L. Gibson, formerly at Perry County District Library, New Lexington, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The splendor of everyday life is revealed in this quietly exciting wordless offering. As a city street awakens, with commuters passing by and grocers setting out their wares, a brightly lit marquee announces the coming Garibaldi Circus. A worker pastes up posters for the circus's various acts, and a little girl's joyful gaze finds the circus in the everyday waking city. A man carries an enormous haunch of meat into the butcher shop by a poster labeled "Goliath the Strongman." A construction worker balances on girders like a tightrope walker while two boys on skateboards clown around in front of the marketplace. In soft, borderless, bright illustrations, the shadows of these everyday adventurers hint at their possible circus lives. In a gorgeous action-packed spread, all the acts of the sidewalk circus appear at once. A lovely tribute to the endless power of imagination. (Picture book. 2-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763627959
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 5/8/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 340,123
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.57 (w) x 9.76 (h) x 0.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Fleischman is the award-winning author of many books for children and young adults, including JOYFUL NOISE: POEMS FOR TWO VOICES, winner of the Newbery Medal; WESLANDIA, a SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL Best Book of the Year and an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book; and THE ANIMAL HEDGE, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. "It came out of the blue," Paul Fleischman says of SIDEWALK CIRCUS. "A vision of a ringmaster standing on a city street, describing the sun rising and the clouds changing color as if they were circus acts. Eventually, I decided to leave him out of the story. And then I decided to leave the words out as well."

Kevin Hawkes is the illustrator of a number of popular books for children, including WESLANDIA and HANDEL, WHO KNEW WHAT HE LIKED, an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book and recipient of a BOSTON GLOBE-HORN BOOK Honor Award. He says, "As I worked on SIDEWALK CIRCUS, I spent a lot of time in Portland, Maine. I was amazed by all the things going on in the city, and all the people and things I had never really noticed before. I am grateful to Paul Fleischman for opening my eyes."

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