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Sidewalk Circus (Bccb Blue Ribbon Picture Book Awards (Awards)) Hardcover – March 8, 2004

4.1 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 5–As posters advertising the world-renowned Garibaldi circus are put up along a busy city block, a girl waiting for a bus watches the circus of everyday life unfold. There is no actual text to the book, just the words of store signs, a scrolling theater marquee, and the show bills. What the girl imagines is revealed through the playful shadows of the people on the street and the corresponding circus flyers. For example, as a chef flips pancakes into the air in the café, the corresponding poster promises "Fantastic feats of juggling." As a young man delivers a side of beef, his shadow is that of the strongman, featured on the neighboring poster. Fleischman has the incredible gift of always finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. To communicate his vision so successfully in a virtually wordless book is an amazing feat, with as much credit due to the illustrator. Hawkes's richly colored acrylic paintings sustain interest and pacing throughout the book, changing perspective, giving readers close-ups and then views further back. Vignettes of the girl waiting on the bench convey her growing sense of wonder as she discovers the parallels with the everyday. Appropriately enough, as she leaves on the bus at the end of the book, her place is taken by a wide-eyed boy who seems destined to find new parallels of his own. This delightful book will fascinate children and help them to see their world with new eyes.–Robin L. Gibson, formerly at Perry County District Library, New Lexington, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* K-Gr. 3. A young girl's downtown bus stop bench turns into a front row seat. "World-Renowned Garibaldi Circus!!! Coming Soon!" the marquee of a theater across the street shouts. But the girl doesn't have to wait. As she watches, an elderly man begins posting banners and signs, and the world transforms into a sidewalk circus. Construction workers balance on beams just like "The Great Teabaldi, Prince of Tightrope Walkers." A deliveryman, bent double under the load of his package, casts a shadow that looks remarkably like "Goliath the Strongman." Two boys' misadventures with their skateboards evoke "The Famous Columbo Clowns." And so it goes until the girl's bus arrives. But don't think that's the end of this adventure; the fun continues after the next turn of the page. Fleischman and Hawkes have produced a magical, inspired collaboration, an almost wordless picture book that is a festival for the imagination. Fleischman's scenes and Hawkes' gorgeous double-page acrylic pictures will tickle the wits and dazzle the eyes of boys and girls of all ages. Step right up! The show is starting! Michael Cart
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
  • Series: Bccb Blue Ribbon Picture Book Awards (Awards)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; 1st edition (March 8, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763611077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763611071
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.4 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,149,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Cynthia E. Ramming on August 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
NOTHING! Paul Fleischman has created a story about imagination, about seeing the ordinary world around you with new eyes. It's a story about what COULD be, and about transcending what IS. Kevin Hawkes has given visual life to Mr. Fleischman's concept. It's a book which shows that children still have the capacity to see the world as a place of possibilities, while the adults nearby are oblivious to the wonderful circus of events taking place around them. This book is a masterpiece.

After reading the other reviews posted for this delightful book, I can only observe that those who wrote them are like the adults in this book. As a society, we are accustomed to being entertained out the wazoo. We are passive observers, waiting for someone to "show us a good time." Mr. Fleischman's book takes me back to that time in my life when all I required to have a good time was a summer afternoon and back yard. My imagination supplied the rest. Sidewalk Circus is a great book to help you take out your imagination and dust it off. Buy it today.
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Format: Hardcover
Huh. That's weird. I'm a pretty easy person to influence. If I read a glowing review of a picture book, I'm far more likely to love it instantaneously upon reading it than, say, view it with a suspicious eye. And the advance word on "Sidewalk Circus" could only be described in one way: glowing. Every reputable children's publication, from Horn Book and Publisher's Weekly to School Library Journal and Bulletin For the Center of Children's Books could only gush and clamor over the beauty that was "Sidewalk Circus". With such remarkably good things said about it, I looked forward to viewing my own copy with quite a bit of anticipation. Maybe I was just setting myself up for disappointment. But when I finally read through this reportedly glorious book I found that it was not the genius work of picture book art I'd come to expect. It's an interesting concept and perhaps a plummy idea. But it's not particularly winning. After I read it I could really only think one thing: Huh. That's weird.

This book is all but wordless, making the action take place entirely in the deft acrylics of illustrator Kevin Hawkes. If you've ever seen Hawkes' fabulous, "Weslandia" then you're familiar with his talents. In the beginning a marquee promotes the following: "COMING SOON...WORLD-RENOWNED...GARIBALDI CIRCUS!!!!....". Across the street from the marquee sits a girl, waiting for the bus. Beneath her eyes, even the most ordinary human being are transformed into circus-related creatures. That construction worker balancing two heavy buckets high above the ground? A tightrope walker, of course. The cook tossing early morning pancakes on a grill? A juggler of highest renown. And what about those window washers that accidentally swing high off the ground? Trapeze artists.
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Format: Hardcover
My daughter approached me with the book because it did not have any words. I told her that we had to create our own story. She abolutely loved it. We read the book over and over creating new stories each time.

My daughter is just learning to read (4yrs.)so this book provided a break from the phonics lessons. If you have a child that loves to talk and asks lots of questions then this book is for you.
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Format: Hardcover
Illustrator Kevin Hawkes says on the jacket copy for Sidewalk Circus "I am grateful to [author] Paul Fleischman for opening my eyes." He was referring to the research time he spent in Portland Maine watching "all the things going on in the city, and all the people and things I had never really noticed before. " Sidewalk Circus presents an almost wordless story that opens our eyes to the pageant of our hometowns. A little girl waiting at her bus stop notices a curious shadow following a man putting up posters that advertise a circus and its acts. The shadow outlines a top-hatted circus ringmaster holding up a megaphone as though directing our attention to a performance. She looks up to discover an ironworker walking a beam above a banner proclaiming "The Great Tebaldi Prince of Tight Rope Walkers. Next she sees a deliveryman bearing a load whose shadow mimics a poster announcing Goliath the Strongman. Through this little girl's eyes everyday events become fantastic feats of juggler's clowns, acrobats and trapeze artists. Kevin Hawkes' rich acrylics of warm yellow and red nineteenth century brick front shops recreate a big top. He portrays the little girl, and later a little boy in color amid achromatic crowds. Their imaginations make the world a circus and their wide eyes and big smiles reflect the delight and wonder circuses strive to inspire. Come one come all of ages from five-to-a-hundred.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is very successful in linking real world to circus. I think the idea is just wonderful, and the illustrations are exquisite.

The authors show that if we only open our eyes to every-day people, we will see how skillful they are in their jobs. It shows, for example, how a food carrier could be a STRONGMAN in the circus, and how a window cleaner could be a trapezist.

I really agree with the idea, I think the circus is so great because it is a place where we open our eyes and our minds to the human abilities. I believe the book represents Emerson's phrase on his Nature essay: "Nature wears the colors of the spirit."

So if you want your children (and yourself) to start watching and acting in the world, instead of seeing it, this book is a good beginning.
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