Friday, May 18, 2018

Circus Mirandus - Cassie Beasley

Summary: Do you believe in magic?

Micah Tuttle does.

Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather.

The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn't want to keep his promise. And now it's up to Micah to get the miracle he came for. (picture and synopsis from goodreads.com)


My Review: I like to pick children's books when it comes to hosting book club, because I feel there is a lot to be gained from literature for young readers.  I'm not saying that all books written for kids are stellar, but in general, the standards are fairly high.  If you know me, I rarely read books for grown ups and tend to stick with kids' fare, and here might be why.

MAGIC!

Books for young readers often have magical elements, and not just just the wand waving kind.  Kids are much more in tune with their imaginations and innocence, so even a children's book about every day life still has that sense of wonder and awe that I feel is often missing in books for adults.

Circus Mirandus was a lot of fun.  But it also deals with serious issues.  That's another thing I love about kids' books--they are not afraid to tackle pretty harsh topics.  In the case of this book, Micah's grandfather Ephraim is very ill, verging on death.  When Micah's great aunt comes to watch over them both, she is particularly cruel to him.  But Micah's belief in the stories of his grandfather's visit to the legendary Circus Mirandus keep him going, and that is what I love so much.  That the stories and magic help them both to survive.

The book often flashes back to when Grandpa Ephraim was a young boy and first discovered the Circus Mirandus.  It was during the war, in which his father was fighting.  By going to the circus, by taking part in the fantasies the Lightbender crafted for him, Ephraim was better able to cope with his current circumstances, even though those didn't change.  Some people (i.e. Aunt Gertrudis in this book) look down on magic and stories as false lies that hinder us.  When, in reality, stories and magic are the things that help us live.  They might not be true, but the things we learn from them are.

The big part of magic in this book deals with finding the magic within oneself, and how you use that magic, whether selfish or selfless, of which we see both sides and the implications that follow.  There's also the fact that not everyone has the same access/belief in magic.  One of the quotes in the book touches on the fact that you need to let people go to find magic on their own.  Micah's friend Jenny has a very analytical, scientific mind, so magic is a foreign thing, hard for her to grasp or understand, and at first, Micah fights to make her believe what he does.  But he comes to terms that she sees the world differently, and he allows her to see magic in her scientific way, which works for her.  Likewise, Jenny is willing to believe in Micah even when they're looking at the same magical thing but seeing it differently.  I think that's very powerful, we cannot force others to see/believe what they cannot yet grasp.

While on the surface a tale about a magical circus and a boy's fight to save his grandfather, this story is much deeper, hinging on how magic and stories can mold and shape us, and help us become.

My rating: 3.5 stars

For the sensitive reader: A great majority of this book deals with Micah coming to terms with his grandfather's coming death.  This could be a trigger point for some.

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