Friday, July 3, 2015

Circus Mirandus

Title: Circus Mirandus 
Author: Cassie Beasley 
Publisher: June 2nd, 2015 
Publication Date: Dial Books 
Genre/Format: Fantasy/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: Fans of Big Fish, Peter Pan, and Roald Dahl will fall in love with Circus Mirandus, which celebrates the power of seeing magic in world.

Do you believe in magic?
Micah Tuttle does.

Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather.
The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn't want to keep his promise. And now it's up to Micah to get the miracle he came for. 
What I Think: I just love the idea of magic in the world in some way or another - even, or maybe especially, the magic we make ourselves. As I read Circus Mirandus, I thought about one of my favorite adult novels, Night Circus b Erin Morgenstern. The writing and imagery in Night Circus is amazing and now Cassie Beasley gives middle grade readers their own magical story and I'm so glad for it. 
     As a mentor text, this book gives an opportunity for writers to think about how one character's story impacts another. So often we read how the story is about the protagonist and his or her story arc but usually at the same time, there is at least one other character who has his or her own character arc. I love how Micah's story intertwines with his grandfather's and even with the Lightbender and Jenny. Sometimes the other story arcs aren't as noticeable but I believe Circus Mirandus gives readers a great opportunity to see how strong a story can be when other characters are so closely and intensely woven in. I know I didn't really realize until I started writing more how important all the other characters are in a story. I've thought so much more about how complex all characters should be and how tricky it is to really take characters from flat to round while writing. 
     After looking at Circus Mirandus and its characters, students can talk about characters in other books and have a discussion about flat versus round characters. What makes a character round versus flat? And what are some craft moves that the author does to make a character more round versus flat? are questions I would ask student readers to discuss. 
Read Together: Grades 4 - 6 
Read Alone: Grades 4 - 7 
Read With: Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (adult) 
Snatch of Text: 
"It's important, when you first see magic, to recognize it. You don't often get a second chance." (p. 34)

"Even when your whole world was off balance, you still woke up in the morning to find there were a hundred perfectly ordinary things to do." (p. 37)

"Circus Mirandus was the sort of place that filled you up to the top of your head. Ephraim spent the whole first day dashing from one tent to the next, seeing bits and pieces of the shows and people and creatures inside each one." (p. 69)

"'Just because a magic is small doesn't mean it is unimportant," the Lightbender said. 'Even the smallest magics can grow.'" (p. 120)
Writing Prompts: Write about a time in your life when you believed in something but others didn't and how it felt that they didn't believe you. 
Topics Covered: Family, Loyalty, Belief, Hopes, Dreams, Friendship, Magic 
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