Friday, 31 May 2019

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 31st May 2019: "Nell and the Circus of Dreams" by Nell Gifford and Briony May Smith (OUP / Oxford Children's Books)

Sometimes it takes seeing things through the eyes of your child to really change your lifelong mind about something you've previously had no time for.

As a kid, I had two major fears. Waxworks (UGHHH!) and Clowns (EEEHHH!) and the latter led me to a real dislike of circuses.

When C was born, we ended up visiting Giffords Circus in Oxford. I was grumpy, didn't want to go but my wife bought the tickets and we all went. C was absolutely enthralled and entranced by it, a circus run by what felt like a tight knit family of performers. There was a clown, but he wasn't the usual sort of painted-faced terrifying type of clown I'd always hated (thanks Tim Rice!) He was genuinely funny, silly and crazy. It completely changed my mind, and perhaps "Nell and the Circus of Dreams" by Nell Gifford and Briony May Smith may change yours too if you've had a similar dislike of all things circus-ey

Beautiful storytelling and the most sumptuous illustrations. This is a real treat!

Giffords Circus is of course one of the most famous and popular circuses still travelling the country, and in this book you'll find a beautifully woven story about a young girl called Nell whose mother becomes very ill. One day Nell finds a tiny chick scratching in the back yard and the two become firm friends. But when the chick grows up into a chicken, she disappears and Nell manages to track her down to a nearby travelling circus.

It's like nothing she's ever seen before. The people there are amazing acrobats and performers, there are beautiful horses prancing daintily around - but Nell still can't find Rosebud, her chicken friend. Until she finally enters the ring to discover who the star of the show really is.

A very talented little girl and her awesome chicken!

(If you've been to Giffords Circus, you'll smile at this bit - as there's always a star part for a talented chicken or two in the show!)

Nell is, of course, a talented storyteller who whirls up an amazingly atmospheric world around her little-girl-self's amazing experiences. But to be partnered by an incredible artist like Briony May Smith must've been a dream come true, her illustrations are just utterly glorious in every way, capturing the atmosphere, the sights and the frisson of excitement in the circus so perfectly.

This book is amazing, almost as amazing as the real-life story of Nell and Giffords Circus itself, and well worthy of a place in our book of the week slot.

Sum this book up in a sentence: A brilliant book celebrating the imagination of a little girl, a mesmerising story and of course the glorious circus, entertaining for all!

"Nell and the Circus of Dreams" by Nell Gifford and Briony May Smith (OUP / Oxford Children's Books)