If I Ran the Circus

Book review by
Peter Lewis, Common Sense Media
If I Ran the Circus Book Poster Image
Seuss at his most transporting and welcoming.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the story of wild circus acts, told in a syncopated beat and drawn to loopy perfection, will appeal to a broad range of youngsters.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLebron12James3 April 2, 2020

It’s good

Pretty scary tho.
Adult Written bySpiff April 9, 2008
Wonderful classic for all ages-I can't even tell you how many times I have read this to my 2 1/2 year old!
Kid, 10 years old October 14, 2019


I found the ebook for this on the back ally’s of my iPad and thought “I don’t remember this story too well, maybe I should read it again.” I liked it, but I rat... Continue reading

What's the story?

No child can possibly escape being spellbound by the sensational Circus McGurkus, Dr. Seuss's testament to the youthful imagination. The melodious verse, the bizarre creatures, the fabulous feats of Sneelock--here is the Seuss world at its most transporting and most welcoming, with fantasy given free rein.


Is it any good?

This two-handed salute to creative thinking is absolutely afire. With a dazzling array of fey Seuss animals and verse worth setting to music -- a classroom full of 5-year-olds swayed to the cadences of the rhyme -- no interest will be caught flagging. The names Seuss has bestowed on his animals -- the Zoom-a-Zoop Troupe from West Upper Ben-Deezing, the Harp-Twanging Snarp, the Juggling Jot, which juggles twenty-two question marks -- are among his very finest. The sense of being right there under the big top is tangible: You can almost hear the calliope over the Seussian din.

Mr. Sneelock pretty much steals the show, puffing away on his pipe, his eyelids down as if he's in a doze. He starts as a drink vendor, moves up to be a fall guy for various animal acts, then takes to the center ring in a series of death-defying feats.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what they would do if they ran a circus. What kind of acts would you want? Would you be in the circus? If so, what would you want to do?

Book details

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate