Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sidewalk Circus

Sidewalk circus
Author:  Paul Fleischman
Illustrator:  Kevin Hawkes
Published:  2004
Start by opening the book and looking at the back and front cover.  I had to take a second look.  At first I only noticed a yellow wall and people walking with their shadows behind them.  But wait, those shadows don't match the people exactly.  I wonder, why?

Open up to the inside cover and you get a clue.  "This book can be grouped with...books about imagination..."  

I decided to take my time reading this book.  I wanted to see what I could figure out just by looking at the pictures one page at a time and taking my time.  On the first page of the story I see a street with people walking on the sidewalks, pigeons on the street, and a man in overalls who seems to be welcoming the sun.  Looking behind him, I see his shadow, yet it is not his shadow, it is the shadow of the Ring Master.  There is another character who also stands out on this page.  On the left side of the page there is a girl.  Her shirt is bright, like she is in the sun, but she is in the shadows.  Everyone else seems dark compared to her.

Turn the page and you realize that she is the one we needed to notice.  She is now sitting on a bench, in the shadows, but she is bright and staring across the street.  She is leaning forward as if she is anxious for something to start.  

The pages that follow alternate between 2 full pages of the circus that she sees in her imagination and then 2 pages that include her reactions to what she sees and the people across the street performing in the circus.  The little girl escapes into her imagination and she sees the workers who become tight rope walkers, strong men who lift heavy weights, clowns performing acrobatics, jugglers, sword swallowers, and a lion with his lion tamer. Eventually, the girl rides off on an elephant, the city bus.  Then a boy shows up, also colorful even though he is in the shadows and he sees the circus around him.

I think the children are bright compared to the adults around them because they are awake.  They are using their imaginations to see the wonder around them, unlike the adults who are preoccupied doing their work and just focusing on getting from one place to the next.  The man on the cover and on the first page who seems to be welcoming the sun, might be calling us to wake up and see the world around us, see the wonders, and use our imagination!

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