Thanks to Alyson Beecher's Non-Fiction Picture Book Challenge at Kidlit Frenzy, those who link up share fabulous non-fiction picture books. I am grateful for all that I've learned through reading non-fiction picture books.
I'm also visiting Michelle Heidenrich Barnes today at Today's Little Ditty with a poem about growing up!
This is a most appropriate time to share this book, to study it and to learn some ideas that might help us all learn to understand others with different backgrounds. Cynthia Levinson has gathered information over a period of years of kids from a number of ethnic, economic and cultural backgrounds who show the world how to exist peacefully and treat each other with kindness and respect in and out of the circus world. Her research follows the lives of nine children. It is an inspiration to learn about the capabilities of everyone if they enter into challenges with openness.
Lots of pictures and extra information in sidebars only adds to the inviting nature of this story. There is extensive backmatter, including lovely biographies of the performers now grown up! One performer is quoted thus: "They taught me circus skills but they were teaching me other things too. About life."
The book explores social circuses and some of the performers in them. It gives indications of their background and motivation for participating in these and the impact this has had on the way they live their lives. The main story follows the St Louis Arches Circus Harmony in America and the Galilee Circus in Israel. There is information about the history and development, how the idea for exchange visits started and the tremendous accomplishments through the years. They learned how to overcome personal and cultural differences to work together as part of the circus show, developing skills, talent and relationships regardless of background.
I especially admired the grit shown by everyone in this book, the main adults who were dedicated to keeping this program going, the children who worked so hard and remained willing to work with strangers with varying points of view, and those "extra" helpers found in nearly all the lives, helping with the circus itself and with individuals.