It may not be the biggest or most dazzling spectacle on Earth, but Sir Sidney’s Circus in The Show Must Go On! is certainly the most charmingly entertaining circus that you’ll ever see (or read about).
When kindly owner and circus master Sir Sidney decides to go into semi-retirement, he believes he has found a suitable replacement in Barnabas Brambles. After all, Brambles holds a degree in lion taming from the University of Piccadilly Circus. Although the circus performers—Leo the lion, Elsa the elephant and the Famous Flying Banana Brothers—are a bit skeptical of the regime change, they trust that Sir Sidney would never put them in harm’s way. Still, Bert and Gert, the circus’ special mouse helpers, smell trouble right away. As Gert puts it, “Never trust a lion tamer in a poorly tailored suit.”
True to form, sisters Kate Klise (author) and M. Sarah Klise (illustrator) use clever jokes, wordplay and adorable illustrations to guide their readers through Brambles’ epic bumbles as circus master. Sir Sidney gives him only a few rules to follow during his trial period: Perform only one show in each city, charge $1 per person, do not charge admission for children and give out free popcorn and lemonade. Brambles, however, immediately restructures the business to make more profits—with disastrous results. Performers are injured and sickened, and the circus train ends up in bizarre places like atop the St. Louis Arch and the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s up to Sir Sidney, of course, to save the day.
As in their award-winning 43 Old Cemetery Road series, forgiveness and empathy are major themes in this sweet story, the first book in the Klise sisters' new Three-Ring Rascals series. Great for classroom reading and reluctant readers, it has the perfect blend of humor and gravitas for the younger end of the middle grade audience.
Sada Stipe is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tennessee.