Friday, July 31, 2009

Children's Book Review Series: The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen

The Circus Ship, written and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen is an interesting story. A unique feature of this light hearted tale is it's loosely based on one of Maine's most tragic sea wrecks.

The fictional story, written in verse, will captivate young readers. It's about a ship full of circus animals that runs into thick fog and crashes off the coast of Maine.

The animals find their way to nearby island; much to the dismay of the people who live there. They wake to find elephants walking around, monkeys hanging from their clotheslines, hippos bathing in the streams, and exotic snakes peeking in their pantries.

At first the people are worried and annoyed at the chaos the new arrivals have created. Then a brave rescue of one of the children changes their minds. Just as they all begin to live happily together, the circus boss returns to bring his animals back to work. Will the people be able to rescue them? You'll have to find out.

The actual event that The Circus Ship was based on occurred in 1836. The ship, The Royal Tar, was making its voyage from New Brunswick to Maine carrying 103 passengers and an entire circus when it's engine caught on fire. Unfortunately, all of the animals did not make it to shore, but there are conflicting accounts that some had. One story said that two horses had made it to an island, another said there were reported sightings of an elephant and many have said that exotic snakes were spotted for years after the accident.

Thankfully The Circus Ship offers children a happier ending while bringing an important part of Maine's history to light. The author does a great job of adapting a true life tragedy into a lighter memorial for families to share.

The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen is intended for children ages 4-8 years old and makes a great book for beginner readers. The expected release date is September 22, 2009. It is on sale now and can be pre ordered on Amazon by following the link:

My daughter loved the story for its rhyming lines and the animals. I really enjoyed that this book was based on a historical event. It encouraged me to learn more about The Royal Tar. Any book that inspires actions after reading is sure to be a big hit with kids, parents, and teachers.

Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment.

Kristin : )

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