Thursday, February 28, 2013

Picture Book Review: The Circus Ship

The Circus Ship

The Circus Ship
Written and illustrated by:  Chris Van Dusen
Published by: Candlewick Press, 2009

* This fictional story about a circus ship is told in rhyme.  When a circus ship en route from Maine to Boston crashes, the fifteen animals swim all night in the cold water, until they reach a small island village.  At first the villagers were a bit annoyed and bothered with the circus animals roaming about.  But after the tiger rescues little Emma Rose from a fire they have a change of heart.  The animals and villagers were living peacefully when there was word that the circus owner was coming back to get his animals.  Mr. Paine was greedy and mean and the animals didn't want to go back so the villagers came up with a plan to hide them. (The kids found this part to be especially humorous!)  Mr. Paine looks everywhere for his circus animals but eventually leaves the island empty-handed.  The villagers and animals end up living happily ever after.

I found it interesting to learn that this book was inspired by an actual event.  On October 25, 1836, the Royal Tar, a steam ship with 103 passengers and a complete circus ended up burning in flames after hitting a gale off the island of Vinalhaven, Maine.  Unfortunately, most people and all of the animals died in this accident. 

Van Dusen took this tragic story and used it to help him create a fun tale.  Van Dusen is also the illustrator of the Mercy Watson books by Kate DiCamillo.  His colorful and almost cartoonish illustrations are perfect for this story.

This book was borrowed from the library.

Family Rating: 1 1/2 thumbs up.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of our very favorite picture books. My whole family loves it. It gets better with each re-reading, which I think is the mark of a really great book. We read it for the first time more than two years ago, and we are still loving it today.