Thursday, July 9, 2015
Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
But Ephraim was worried about his father, away fighting in a war, and just wants to see him again. The Lightbender grants his wish and Ephraim is able to spend some time with his father once again. As wonderful as seeing his dad is, Ephraim realizes that it is just an illusion and isn't real.
When the Lightbender talks to him after the show, Ephraim performs his own bit of magic - tying a knot he can make with his bootlace that even the great magician can't undo. Realizing that this young boy understands the power and the limit of magic, he grants him a miracle, a miracle Ephraim has never used until now.
Fifth grader Micah Tuttle has listened to his Grandpa Ephraim's stories about his boyhood adventures at the centuries old Circus Mirandus all his life, but he never thought for one moment any of it was real. At least not until Grandpa Ephraim becomes very ill. Now on his deathbed, Grandpa Ephraim writes a letter to the Man Who Bends Light to call in that miracle he was promised - a letter sent via Ms. Chintzy, the grumbling parrot circus messenger. Thinking the miracle may have something to do with Grandpa Ephraim's health, Micah decides he must figure out how to find Circus Mirandus and bring the Lightbender to his grandpa's bedside.
Of course, bringing the Lightbender home may be made more difficult because of the presence of magic-hating, Micah-disliking Great Aunt Gerturdis who has come to take care of Grandpa Ephraim, and who has virtually cut off Micah's contact with his grandpa.
Luckily, Micah has made a friend at school named Jenny Mendoza, a science-minded girl who has to be convinced that magic exists, but who is nevertheless totally impressed by Micah's own knot-tying skills that results in a very successful school project for the two of them.
Not sure how they would find the circus, one day Micah heard the call of the pipes and drums, he knows it is the same sound his Grandpa Ephraim had heard, because "the music that calls a person to magic is always the same." Sure enough, Circus Mirandus has arrived.
But when the Lightbender refuses to honor his promise to Grandpa Ephraim, it is up to Micah to try to change his mind. And along the way, Micah will uncover some family secrets that are tied to the circus, including the reason for Aunt Gertrudis's bitterness and her dislike of magic.
I don't like circuses at all and never read circus books, so how did I end up falling in love with Circus Mirandus. Perhaps that's part of the magic of the novel. I picked it up and didn't put it down till I had finished it and that almost never happens. And the name - who could resist a title that translates into a circus to be amazed at.
I loved the whole premise of the story that sometimes the power of magic and illusion can eclipse the power of science and reality, but only if you believe in it. And it's what makes Circus Mirandus so special, so magical. To begin with, only those children who believe in magic can see it, and it caters to them. It's purpose is "fighting to keep enchantment alive in the world" for the children. And Cassie Beasley has succeeded in doing just that with this utterly enchanting novel. And the story is only matched by her lovely, lyrical writing.
The characters are all well-fleshed out, their different personalities revealing where each has placed their faith: Micah and Grandpa Ephraim have plaed their faith in magic, Jenny with her faith in verifiable facts and science, and Aunt Gertrudis with her faith in harsh reality. Aunt Gertrudis will definitely conjured up memories of Miss Trunchbull from Roald Dahl's Matilda, acting as an outlet for all the reader's frustrations as Micah tries to help his grandpa, making it all that much easier to dislike her.
Circus Mirandus is an extraordinary coming of age debut novel about courage, faith, hope, family and friendship, but also about grief and loss. It is a story not be to missed.
And, remember, when you hear drums and pipes, you know that the circus has come to town - just follow the music to find it.
This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was an ARC received from the publisher