When Will and I were in the grocery store a few weeks ago, a book in the checkout line caught my eye. There was an elephant on the cover (my absolute favorite animal!) and a tagline that said, “Magic so wondrous, you have to believe it to see it.” I picked it up to read the summary, and Will asked me if I wanted to buy it. Normally I say no in situations like this, but I wanted to read this book, so this time I said yes. I didn’t realize at the time that it was a children’s novel, but I’m glad I read the book anyway. It was a whimsical tale about a boy and his grandfather and the magical circus that binds them together, even through the ultimate separation.
A few weeks later, Lori and I were emailing back and forth to try to figure out what books to do for book club this summer, and I requested something “light and easy” because of all the stress of our moving and living situation. She suggested two (one of which was the Women of WWII that we did last month), and one is one that her daughters read (which will be up next month). I suggested Circus Mirandus – the book with the elephant and great tagline.
As always with book club posts, Spoiler Alert.
Aunt Gertrudis says bad sense runs in the family. Do you believe bad sense is inherited or learned? Why?
I think “bad sense” is learned. While it might seem that it’s inherited based on the people in our lives that seem to exhibit it on occasion (or regularly…), you can just as often find people from a “bad situation” who have overcome that to become smart and successful. If bad sense was genetic, you wouldn’t see that often, if ever.
Grandpa Ephraim wrote to a lightbender. Is it possible to bend light and if so, how?
Simply speaking, anyone who wears correctional lenses (glasses) bends light every day. The glasses refract the light to help them see better.
You can also bend light with a prism. Or a hose. Both of those allow us to see the bent light in the form of a rainbow.
But someone just bending light on their own, with no tools, I’m not so sure.
Interesting thought occurred to me as I typed about rainbows just a moment ago, though… The rainbow is God’s promise to never destroy the world by water again. The lightbender in the story is Micah’s savior (of sorts). I’m not suggesting that the lightbender is God or anything, but the fact that this is the way in which his powers manifest make it an interesting comparison.
The Lightbender uses a parrot to send messages. What other bird is known for carrying messages and how are they trained?
It seems as though using birds to send messages is a very popular thing for fantasy stories to do. They use owls in Harry Potter. I’m not sure what birds are used for messaging in real life – carrier pigeons, maybe? Being unsure as to whether this is even the right answer, I don’t know how they’re trained.
Circus Mirandus is in La Paz, Bolivia. Find it on a map. How far is it from your city or state?
I know that La Paz, Bolivia is in South America, so I didn’t have to look too hard to find it on the map. I did not, however, know the distance from my hometown – it’s roughly 5400 miles.
Porter can open a door from one part of the world to another. If you had such a door name the one place you would like to use the door to visit and why.
Paris, France. There are a lot of places I’ve wanted to visit (London, Australia, Peru), but Paris is the one that I want to see the most.
Ephraim writes letters to his father during the war. Each letter has Ephraim doing something worse than the letter before, such as cutting school, then robbing a train. Why do you think Ephraim is writing these types of letters? What is his purpose?
I think that young Ephraim thinks that if he’s bad enough, his father will have to come home from the war, and seeing his father again is the one thing in the world he wants more than anything. So it’s worth it to him to behave badly if it means he’ll get to see his dad again – having his father around to punish him for behaving badly is better than not having him around at all.
Jenny pulls Micah into the crafts closet when she thinks he is about to cry. What does this tell you about Jenny and her character?
It shows that she’s both acutely aware of people’s feelings (to have recognized that he was about to cry) and she has a lot of empathy – she wanted to protect him from potential ridicule from other classmates.
There are dozens more questions on this book from the website we’ve used for these questions, but I’m already getting pretty longwinded here, so I’m going to wrap it up. Before I go, just a couple of final thoughts on this book. I really enjoyed reading it, despite the fact that it was a children’s book. Just because a book is written with kids in mind doesn’t mean that it’s not appropriate or enjoyable for adults, and Circus Mirandus proved that to me. As soon as we get moved into our own house again, and unpack the boxes and find this book, my older kids (at least Munchkin – the reader) is going to read it. I look forward to hearing his thoughts on it. This one is definitely something to pick up! But before you do, head over to Lori’s blog and read her thoughts on this book.
Next month, we’ll be reading The Dragon of Lonely Island.