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The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen

on July 24, 2014

The circus ship

The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen

Picture Books

Ages: 3-5

Topics: Circus animals, friendship,

Find this book at your local library

This cute book is actually based on true events from 1836. A ship, The Royal Tar, was traveling from New Brunswick to Maine ran into a gale and sank, taking much of the passengers and animals with it. Although it seems like the elephant managed to swim to the nearby Brimstone Island.

This book tells the story of circus animals worked to the bone by their mean owner Mr. Paine. When the ship sank, he could only think of rescuing himself. As the animals swam all night to find a safe place to stay. They came across an island and quickly tried to blend in, although they didn’t do a very good job. Although the townspeople were bothered by their presence, they soon began to form a friendship. A friendship that helped save the animals from their owner Mr. Paine’s return.

The book is told in rhyme and really is really fun to read. It’s definitely too lengthy for the baby/toddler age range (0-3). But I think the preschoolers will really enjoy the story. Who wouldn’t?

The people in the neighborhood

had just begun to rise,

and when they saw those animals,

they had to rub their eyes.

They thought they saw an elephant –

but wait, how could that be?

And what’s that little monkey doing

in the cherry tree?

The animals cause some havoc when they first arrive at the island, but soon they make this island their home. Although the true story has a very depressing ending, this retelling puts a happier spin on the story. What is the most appealing about this book though, are the illustrations. They are beautifully detailed works of art. The jeweled tones add a richness to this book, highlighting facial expressions and making everything stand out more.

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