Sidewalk Circus

Book review by
Dawn Friedman, Common Sense Media
Sidewalk Circus Book Poster Image
Waiting kids see circus acts with imaginations.

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

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this imaginative book holds nothing offensive for families.

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What's the story?

Children bored waiting at the bus stop discover a circus is playing out right in front of them in their everyday world.

Is it any good?

Veteran author Paul Fleischman joins veteran illustrator Kevin Hawkes to create a magical book rooted in realism. A hint of what the book holds is on the cover: A yawning sign-hanger looks ordinary, but his shadow on the wall turns him into a shouting ringleader. That's the message here: excitement is where you find it!

Not quite a wordless picture book, the story wanders across the page in the form of the lit-up theater marquee and the signs hoisted by the sign-hanger. As the words appear, the action follows, and suddenly an everyday delivery man becomes a strongman and jugglers appear in a pizza shop window. Pre-readers will enjoy poring over the detailed pictures since the words aren't necessary to catch the action.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about new ways of seeing the world. Kids can try finding their own "sidewalk circus" next time they're stuck waiting for a bus, standing in line at the bank, or helping parents grocery shop. Parents can talk about how imagination can make for great entertainment no matter how ordinary the day.

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