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Last Night I Dreamed a Circus Hardcover – January 14, 2003


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 6 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 1
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (January 14, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375823883
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375823886
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 8.8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,467,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This simple poem penned by first-time children's book author Maya Gottfried and illustrated by Robert Rahway Zakanitch, also a newcomer to children's books, captures both the marvels of the circus as seen by a wide-eyed child and the slow, thick images of a remembered dream. Brief sentences are accompanied by luminous paintings of acrobats and animals. "I jumped through hoops," is printed opposite a painting of four dogs in dresses and party hats, quivering with anticipation as each awaits its turn to leap through the big red hoop above. The circus performers, dangling from ropes and trapezes, balanced upside down on horseback, or with heads just clearing a lion's pointy teeth, sport costumes magnificently patterned with flowers, feathers, and curlicues. Each is captured against a black background, just as if in a spotlight under the darkened big top. The clowns in this book aren't scary--but you may swear off circuses forever after you see the laughing chimpanzee hanging from the parallel rings. The other illustrations are lush and whimsical, especially one featuring a woman in a spectacularly feathered dress carrying exotic birds on her arms and head. (Ages 4 to 8) --Jennifer Lindsay

From Publishers Weekly

Gottfried's meditative debut is accompanied by the artwork of fine artist Zakanitch, also a newcomer to children's books. Evocative watercolors of circus folk in full regalia suggest a slow-motion performance. The parade of acrobats and animals begins with the title words, "Last night I dreamed a circus," offset by an image of a man doing a one-handed handstand on horseback. "I spun circles round the stars," the text continues, alongside a woman who grips a rope in her teeth and whirls like a corkscrew. "I twisted in knots" pictures a contortionist in an exotic red-and-white bodysuit. "And I laughed" features a startling, grinning chimpanzee in feather headgear and a dress, hanging from parallel hoops. Zakanitch poses the characters in spangled tights, skin-tight costumes with curlicues and (in one case) a magnificent patterned cape which alludes to Alexandre Benois's and L‚on Bakst's costume designs for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. The artist enfolds his performers in heavy black or midnight-blue backgrounds, so that they seem at once spotlit and suspended in tar; the trapeze artists are sealed in space, while other performers stand rigidly as though taking a bow. Likewise, Gottfried's placid, unrhymed lines end firmly in periods, arresting the action on each page and building up inertia. These characters don't fly through the air with the greatest of ease, but their fanciful procession plus Zakanitch's extravagant costumes should garner some oohs and aahs. Ages 3-6.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Maya Gottfried is a lifelong New Yorker, with the exception of approximately four years spent at Bard College in upstate New York, and a semester at Goldsmiths (University of London). Maya and artist, Robert Rahway Zakanitch recently received the Pennsylvania School Librarians Young Reader's Choice Award for their book, Good Dog (Knopf). In addition to creating books for children, she has written for various print and online publications, and penned the essay "Untitled" for the grown-up anthology Half/Life: Jew-ish Tales from Interfaith Homes.

Maya was inspired to write Our Farm (Knopf) after learning about Farm Sanctuary online, and swiftly becoming engaged with the organization as a volunteer in New York City. Not too long after being introduced to the shelters from afar, she managed a trip to the Watkins Glen, NY location where she met and began to get to know a number of the people and non-human residents of Farm Sanctuary. It was during that trip that the first conversations about the book took place, and Maya began to get to know the Farm Sanctuary residents as the individuals that they are.

Maya lives in Brooklyn with her two cats, Lucian and Bunny. Unfortunately there is no space (or grass) for cows in her apartment, but one can always dream.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roz Levine on February 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"Last night I dreamed a circus. I spun circles round the stars. And juggled a rose garden..." So begins children's books newcomer, author, Maya Gottfried's, ode to the fun and excitement found under the big top. Her simple, spare, lyrical text is evocative and filled with imagery and magical descriptions that transports the reader into the dream. But it's illustrator, Robert Rahway Zakanitch's bold, bright and vivid watercolors that really makes this picture book a winner. Each dramatic illustration is rich in dazzling color, intricate shapes and patterns, and eye-catching detail, and little ones will want to linger and explore every stunning page. Together word and art offers a vibrant, captivating circus adventure. Perfect for story time, Last Night I Dreamed A Circus is a preschool crowd pleaser that begs to be read aloud and shared.
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This is a great book for preschool storytime. It took a little while for the book to arrive but it was not late by any means. It was in good condition and I am looking forward to using it soon!
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I love this illustrator, and the story is simple and beautiful, too. Got this book from another seller and the quality of the binding was cheaper than I expected. I had first seem the book at a library, and it was a better quality. Must be a second or third or fourth printing, with the pub trying to save money. That said, I love the words and pics, as do my grandkids.
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While most books about the circus are predictable, this was not! My class LOVED the illustrations, especially the monkey in the ballerina outfit! The vocabulary was as rich as the artwork! A book I will do every year.
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