The Day the Circus Came to Town, written by Melody Carlson, illustrated by Ned Butterfield
The Day the Circus Came to Town is a nicely written and beautifully illustrated childrenâs book set in the early 20th Century, in an unnamed small town in the United States of America. It tells the story of Billy, a young boy, who is initially excited to hear that a traveling circus is coming to town for the first time in his life. Some of his friends, however, are trying to âpooh-poohâ the whole idea, as âcircuses are for sissies.â Once the circus comes into town, one of the circus clowns, Zino, comes across the boys and offers them free tickets to the performance. Billy, giving into peer pressure, refuses, and later refuses to go along with his family to the circus. He goes to visit with his friends, only to find they they have all gone to the circus, save one.
Billy wanders by the circus, and is entranced by the sights and smells, but is denied entrance since he has no ticket. On the verge of tears, he sees Zino the clown, and asks him if he has any free tickets left? No is the answer givenâtheyâve all been given away; but, perhaps Zino can do something about the problem anyway. Billy is shocked to find out that Zino, in addition to being a performer, is the owner of the circus, and he invites Billy to sit by him in his special chair as his special guest.
The Day the Circus Came to Town works on two different levels, first as a story about the dangers of peer pressure and group think. It would also work as a gospel story, with Zino, the rejected clown who actually owns and runs the circus as a metaphor for Jesus Christ, accepting the one who rejected him and elevating him.
Itâs a very nice story, and beautifully illustrated as well. I rate it 3 clowns out of 5.