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Sandy's Circus: A Story About Alexander Calder Hardcover – September 4, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 750L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Juvenile (September 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670062685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670062683
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 9.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 2–4—What child—or adult—is not intrigued by a mobile: moving, swaying, changing in light and space as it intrigues and delights. Calder's name is nearly synonymous with these creations, and Stone and Kulikov spin out a fast-moving tale that is in keeping with their high-energy subject. From childhood, Sandy produced an array of objects for friends and family from found materials. As an adult, when hired to draw pictures of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, he took the project one step further, bringing the circus to life with bits of wire, cork, buttons, yarns, and string. Eventually, his creations filled five suitcases, and the performances included chariot races; bucking broncos; and high-wire acts that flipped, leaped, and danced in the air. Audiences loved it. Stone depicts Calder as a man utterly involved in his work, and Kulikov strengthens the premise using two differing styles of illustration—often on the same page. He portrays Calder in a Gulliver-like mode: stepping between New York and Paris in giant strides, forming his wire characters with hands that dominate an entire spread, and sprawling happily across the floor as part of the circus performance. These depictions, in full robust colors, often show Calder in childlike poses, interacting with the wire animals, oblivious to an artist muse who floats above him. In contrast, gray-shaded drawings with bold black lines sometimes crowd into the page, seemingly portraying the working "stuff" of Calder's bursting imagination: a jumbled mixture of tools and ideas that formed his extraordinary artistic creations.—Barbara Elleman, Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Artist Alexander Calder’s works often find an appreciative audience among kids, so it’s surprising that there are so few books about him for young children. This beautifully illustrated picture-book biography fills the void with a spare, direct story that focuses on Calder’s youth and what are, perhaps, his most kid-accessible artworks: his wire sculptures of circus performers. Stone distills Calder’s youth and early adulthood into just a few lines per page: Calder grew up with encouraging parents who were artists, but it wasn’t until he joined the navy and was awestruck by dramatic views from deck that he thought about art school. Later, in Paris, he developed his wire sculptures, including the circus pieces that made him famous. The text is confusingly vague about where and for whom Calder performed his circus, and the final page, which mentions Calder’s mobiles, feels rushed. Kulikov’s elegant, fanciful, multimedia collages extend the story, though, and they will ignite curiosity in Calder and in his art-making process, which seems as joyful and free-form as children’s play. Grades 1-3. --Gillian Engberg

More About the Author

Tanya Lee Stone is an award-winning author of books for kids and teens. Stone went to performing arts high school in New Haven, CT and went on to major in English at Oberlin College (and study Voice at Oberlin Conservatory). After graduation she moved to New York and became an editor. Stone was an editor for more than a dozen years and has a Masters Degree in Science Education. She teaches Writing for Children at Champlain College.

After moving to Vermont, Stone became a full-time writer and has published more than 90 books for young readers. She writes picture books, nonfiction, and Young Adult fiction. Her newest nonfiction books have garnered some major awards. Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream (Candlewick 09), received a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, Jane Addams Honor, YALSA Nonfiction Finalist, Orbis Pictus Honor, and was awarded ALA's Sibert Medal for the best nonfiction book for young readers of 2010. The Good the Bad, and the Barbie won SCBWI's Golden Kite Award for the best nonfiction book of the year for 2011.

Her Young Adult novel, A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl (Wendy Lamb/Random House) was an IRA Young Adult Choice, an ALA Quick Picks, an NYPL Book for the Teen Age, and SLJ Book of the Month. Her newest nonfiction picture books, Elizabeth Leads the Way: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the Right to Vote and Sandy's Circus: A Story About Alexander Calder received starred reviews and were put on several state award lists. Elizabeth Leads the Way is also an ALA Notable, an Amelia Bloomer Award title, and a CBC Notable Social Studies Book.

Forthcoming titles include picture books about Elizabeth Blackwell and Jane Addams, as well as a YA nonfiction book about the first black paratroopers in WWII called Courage Has No Color.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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The artwork was vibrant, exciting and complimented the story perfectly.
D. Fowler
Sandy's Circus is a well-researched book that will find appeal among adults and children for its interesting story and dramatic illustrations.
Yana V. Rodgers
And the great thing is, he succeeded, earned world-wide respect for his original "impossible" creations.
Emily Dickinson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Yana V. Rodgers on September 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Alexander "Sandy" Calder, a famous American artist and sculptor, loved nothing more as a child than making objects from scraps of wood, leather, and wire that he found around the house and neighborhood. He built a miniature castle for his sister, made toys and jewelry for his friends, and created abstract shapes using his imagination as a guide. Although Sandy studied engineering in college, he did not find his subsequent jobs satisfying, and he returned to his love of art. A trip to Paris led Sandy to design a set of miniature circus figures made from wire, cork, buttons, cloth, and other scraps. He used these figures to put on animated circus shows before delighted audiences in both Paris and New York.

As the number of figures grew to fill five suitcases, the popularity of Cirque Calder also grew and helped to establish Sandy's reputation as an innovative and talented artist. He later invented the mobile (a sculpture made with wire that gently spins in the air), a popular art form that hangs over baby cribs around the world. Sandy's Circus is a well-researched book that will find appeal among adults and children for its interesting story and dramatic illustrations. Mixed into this snapshot of Alexander Calder's life are some important economics lessons related to innovation and human resources. This valuable book will add nicely to any collection of children's books with substantive content and an entertaining story.
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Format: Hardcover
Sandy's parents were very artistic, but he didn't consider himself to be an artist. He was always creating something and his parents made sure he had plenty of material to work with. While his father sculpted and his mother painted he would be creating things for his friends and his sister Peggy with scrap materials he scrounged from the streets. When he grew up, he had no desire to be an artist and instead "went to college and learned more about making things by studying to be an engineer." After college he worked as a fireman on a ship and a magnificent "fiery red sunrise" and a full moon that looked "like a silver coin" inspired him to return to art school.

Alexander "Sandy" Calder really was born to be an artist and when he was hired by a newspaper to draw the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus he was hooked. By 1926 he could be found on the streets of Paris with "a roll of wire around his shoulder and a pair of pliers in his pocket." He was adept at twisting wire into astonishing portraits of his friends. The circus was probably still in the back of his mind when he created a "little wire lion." It was the start of a special circus that would cross the ocean and back many times. For a man who didn't think he was an artist, he would one day wow the world. Showtime!

This was a wonderful portrait of a man that didn't seem to realize or acknowledge that he had a very unique and wonderful talent. I loved the easy flow of the story and the happy aura surrounding it. The artwork was vibrant, exciting and complimented the story perfectly. In the back of the book is a brief story about how the author became captivated by and "met" Sandy's circus in a chance encounter on a Sunday drive. There is a photograph of him at work in the back of the book. This is a Vermont Red Clover Award nominee for the 2009-10 school year. This book is one that will appeal to both child and adult alike!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Buschart on April 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This little book is beautifully illustrated and tells a lovely story about the life of Alexander Calder. I am using it for a Unit that I teach as an Elementary Art Teacher.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kate Begonia on November 17, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonderful, inspiring story. My kids love reading it and it's opened their perspectives to different types of art. I think it's also a great gift.
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