Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sidewalk Circus
Sidewalk Circus is presented by Paul Fleischman and Keven Hawkes. It was published in 2004 by Candlewick Press.

Sidewalk Circus is an eye-catching wordless book about how the world around us can mirror the circus. 

When I first picked this book up and read the title, I thought it was going to be about someone, or several people, performing on the sidewalk.  I hadn't realized until I got home that it was a wordless book and that the pictures would tell the story of the performance.

The first thing I noticed when opening the book is that on the left side of the page, there are several people sitting at a bus stop, waiting to be picked up for their daily commute. Only one of the bus riders is a child.  She is who I focused on when 'reading' this book.  I tried to put myself into her shoes and experience it the way that she would.  Across from the bus stop was a theatre which announced the show and the acts that would be seen at the show.  There were also several shops and people walking through the street.
Each picture in the book depicted the people on the street acting in a similar way as an act that would be seen at the circus. The little girl watched from across the street, mesmerized by the characters on the street.  I caught myself really studying the pictures before I read what they were supposed to be on the theatre board, so I could try to figure out what the girl was seeing. I could feel the joy that she had as she watched each part of the 'show' on the sidewalk. It was fun to think back to the times I have been to the circus, and try to imagine the real circus performers doing what the people on the street were representing.
The fact that the little girl is the only one enjoying the show, or even attending to it, speaks to the loss of creativity and fun in adults.  They are so wrapped up in being late, meeting others, or just being too unhappy to enjoy what is going on around them. The child's facial expressions change from wonder when the show first begins, to excitement when the woman is 'juggling' pancakes, to fear when the boys almost fall off of the 'trapeze' , to longing when she has to get on the bus and drive away.  I believe  they caught the emotions that run through us at a real circus perfectly.

After the bus took the people on to their next destination, new people sat at the bus stop.  Among them, was another child -- a boy who will now get to experience the adventure of the Sidewalk Circus.

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