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Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo?
     

Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo?

by Carlyn Beccia
 

Before the days of TV, DVDs, and video games, there was the circus. When it came to town, businesses and schools would shut down. Folks would gather round, for there, right in front of their eyes, was drama, action, and intrigue. There was the grace ofthe bareback rider, the daring of the acrobat, the strangeness of the snake lady, and the delight of the dancing

Overview


Before the days of TV, DVDs, and video games, there was the circus. When it came to town, businesses and schools would shut down. Folks would gather round, for there, right in front of their eyes, was drama, action, and intrigue. There was the grace ofthe bareback rider, the daring of the acrobat, the strangeness of the snake lady, and the delight of the dancing pigs.

Vintage-style circus posters capture the weird and the wonderful while fascinating sidebars reveal historical truths behind America’s circuses. What was it like when the circus came to town? This book, illustrated in rich oils, gives us a ringside seat.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

What better way to evoke the Big Top's historical enticements? . . . Step right up.
Booklist, ALA

Today's readers may be as entranced by Beccia's depictions of such spectacles as their forebearers were by the real thing.
Publishers Weekly

Although her fledgling circus career ended abruptly (when she catapulted her sister across the bedroom, headlong into a bureau!), Carlyn Beccia has never lost her love for the Big Top. Now, in this eye-popping extravaganza of an alphabet book, the talented illustrator re-creates the excitement of the old-fashioned traveling circus in beautiful vintage-style posters nearly as spectacular as the acts they depict. Sidebars reveal lots of fun facts about circus life and famous performers of the past -- including sharpshooter Annie Oakley, magician Harry Houdini, and circus clown Dan Rice (whose star-spangled red-white-and-blue costume inspired cartoonist Thomas Nast's caricature of Uncle Sam). But the real headliner is Beccia's artwork, rendered in vivid colors, rich, multimedia textures, and gorgeously ornate typefaces that accentuate the retro feel. A surefire crowd-pleaser for the 4-8 set and their parents.
Publishers Weekly
This abecedarium of circus posters introduces a collection of turn-of-the-century sideshow acts. It's clear that newcomer Beccia's own interest lies with circus posters as an art form; her most enthusiastic audience may be type designers and graphic artists. For younger readers, the flat, folk-Gothic style paintings soften the impact of occasionally disturbing images (a tattooed man, a bearded lady, a part mermaid/part monkey creature). For the letter "w," Waino and Plutano, the "Wild Men of Borneo," are painted as peculiar caricatures against a mustard-colored background. Beccia's verse description, with shaky meter, says, "W is for Wicked/ A Devious Duo/ Can't behave, too depraved/ They belong in Borneo." In the text below each page's plate, Beccia works to demystify the circus ("The brothers' real names were Barney and Hiram, and they were natives of Long Island, New York"), but doesn't go into seemingly necessary detail (such as why the inhabitants of Borneo were thought so depraved). She explains the derivation of expressions like "hold your horses" (yelled by the crier at the head of the circus procession, who knew what happened when horses saw wild animals) and "jumbo" (the elephant's name gave rise to the adjective that means "big," not the other way around). Though modern circuses are certainly tamer than the turn-of-the-century versions explored here, today's readers may be as entranced by Beccia's depictions of such spectacles as their forebearers were by the real thing. Ages 6-10. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
An alphabet book to knock your socks off! Not only does Beccia go from A to Z in deftly formed verses describing circus acts. She has also researched circus history in order to place additional fascinating information on circus lore across the bottoms of the pages. D is for dazzling Miss May, for example, "the greatest bareback rider of all time," with more facts at the bottom about this real equestrian. For each letter Beccia has found another amazing performer or more to excite us, closing with Z for Zippy as the circus train moves on to its next stop. The pages are like circus posters in design and varying typography, but all differ in using borders and illuminated upper-case letters, as well as in the inclusion of the brief poems. One can learn bits of circus lore, but first one has to absorb the visual allure of the illustrations. Beccia has used "a bit of pencil and paper, gob of oil paint, a little acrylics, curled wood shavings, a dull blade," and combined them digitally to create this ballyhoo. She has also listed her sources for further research.
School Library Journal

K - Gr 4 - This is a visually appealing, well-designed, clearly written, but ultimately problematic book. Beccia uses mixed-media digital art to create a tribute to the circus. Although the book jacket states that "this book will take readers back to a time when the circus was a primary form of entertainment," no other expository material is provided to indicate when, where, or if this is an accurate statement. The framed, full-page illustrations are intended to resemble circus posters, but the identical retro feel comes across whether the act depicted is from the 1830s or the 1980s. The posters are arranged alphabetically, although the words selected to represent each letter are rarely exclusively circus related, other than the "B is for Ballyhoo." There is no chronological order, and while years are sometimes mentioned in the brief sentences underneath the posters, often they are not. Posters feature "Siamese" twins, a bearded lady, and a contortionist. There is no much-needed introduction or afterword to place things in historical perspective. The book certainly serves as a colorful introduction, but a more balanced view of the circus experience is called for.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780618717187
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/09/2007
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
(w) x (h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
4 - 3 Years

Meet the Author


Carlyn Beccia made her picture book debut with the captivating Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo? The idea for The Raucous Royals, her second book, came after a trip to Paris: “I went to Versailles,” she writes, “and discovered that Marie Antoinette never said her infamous line ‘Let them eat cake.’ Then I remembered also believing that Anne Boleyn had six fingers. After much digging, I discovered that one of her biographers after her death said she had an extra nail. A nail isn’t a finger. That discovery led to another rumor and then another . . .” Besides painting, drawing, and researching royalty, Carlyn enjoyssalsa dancing, horseback riding, and raucous games of badminton with her husband. She lives in Lynnfield, Massachusetts.

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