When my son Kyle was younger, he had established himself as a good reader, but I had to beg him to read. I quickly found that there were certain types of books that were an easier sell, such as books with pictures and witty dialogue. He’s over the hump now and loves to read books of all types, but The Show Must Go On! (Three-Ring Rascals) by Kate Klise is exactly the sort of book that I know he would have dug into when I brought it home. Reading should be fun, and it’s okay for kids to have that expectation.
I love the kind of books that are exciting for children to read. A combination of pictures and a fully developed story with plot and humor that will appeal to elementary school students gives early readers something to dig into, and lets readers who are less inclined to read or who are challenged by the written word ease in.
Sir Sidney posts a help wanted ad for someone to run his circus. When Barnabas Brambles the lion tamer showed up, Sir Sidney knew he was perfect for the job, even if Leo the lion was kind of old and tame already. Barnabas promised to bring a new vision and energy to the circus. But the week that Sidney takes off to give Barnabas a trial run ends up showing vision all right, the vision of dollar signs in Barnabas’ eyes. Sir Sidney misses the circus, and with the way that Barnabas is driving the performers, the circus definitely misses him. Barnabas is taking shortcuts and trying to speed everything up, and of course that gets him into scrapes, like having the train get stuck on the top of landmarks like The Golden Gate Bridge and the St. Louis arch.
There are drawings on each page, taking up at least half the page. But in addition to the beautiful realistic drawings by M. Sarah Klise, there are also cartoon bubbles from mice Gert and Bert commenting on the story. This is the kind of detail that makes my 9-year-old son crack up. There are also interesting additions like the help wanted ad, the letter Sir Sidney wrote hiring Barnabas, and Barnabas’ diploma.
The Show Must Go On! (Three-Ring Rascals) is a book I’d recommend for advanced readers of any age (preschool and Kindergarten included), but up to 4th grade if they still struggle with lots of text. Animal lovers will enjoy it even more.
This is a Cybils nominee that was originally in my category (Middle Grade Fiction), but got moved elsewhere to do the unrealistic nature of talking animals.