For the past few weeks, we’ve been sharing paranormal-themed poetry, it’s about time that we share something circus and carnivale-related, in keeping with our bimonthly theme until end of February.
It was indeed a pleasant surprise to have found this lovely book with poetry selected by the inimitable Lee Bennett Hopkins entitled Circus! Circus! in our library. Perfect contribution as well for Poetry Friday this week which is hosted by Laura Salas of Writing the World for Kids.
The book, as you can see, is relatively old, with crunchy pages and a musty smell. I love its unused/unread feel. And as per usual, the poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins were spot-on. There are 17 poems included in this collection, ranging from poets like Jack Prelutsky, Bobbi Katz (whose Monsterologist we have featured here several weeks back), Patricia Hubbell, and Ogden Nash among others.
Reading the lines from Such things are far away by Fannie Stearns Davis makes one feel the excitement, the anticipation of “pop-corn and balloons,/ Gold, purple, scarlet moons” – the circus is coming indeed! Then, there is of course an ode to The Ringmaster by Lee Bennett Hopkins and everything that can be seen in the carnivale with Margaret Hillert’s Circus Fare – leading Solveig Paulson Russell to exclaim that there is Too Much to See.
And of course, not to forget The Elephants by Dorothy Aldis and Circus Elephant by Kathryn Worth. I was struck by Worth’s silent questioning of whether the giant beast still recalls his life in the jungle:
Does His Majesty remember? Does he stir himself and dream Of the long-forgotten music Of a long-forgotten stream?
There are also lovely verses written To a Circus Acrobat by Patricia Hubbell and The Clown by Dorothy Aldis. The poetry is likewise enhanced by the black-and-white drawings of John O’Brien that are teeming with life, movement, and seeming-animation.
The poem that spoke to me the most, though, and which I’d like to share with fellow Poetry Friday enthusiasts is Bobbi Katz’ When all the crowds have gone
What are you like underneath your mask, When all the crowds have gone? Do you take off your smile for a little while, When all the crowds have gone? Do you always make jokes for the circus folks? Do you quietly keep to yourself? What are you really like, Mr. Clown, When all the crowds have gone?
I was just reflecting that educators/teachers are like circus people in a sense – we are ringmasters inside the classroom, channeling the students’ boisterous energy, waning enthusiasm, and their inevitable lapses in attention. Regardless of what happens at home or in our private social lives (assuming that we still have one), we need to assume an enthused face to welcome the kids (or adults in my case) inside your circus tent/classroom and provide them with entertainment packaged in colorful slides bursting with imagery and text to satisfy their learning needs. Well, at least, that’s the way I see it. And yeah, it would also be interesting to see what teacher really is like when all the crowds have gone. 🙂
Circus! Circus! Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and Illustrated by John O’ Brien. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1982. Book borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos were taken by me.
PictureBook Challenge Update: 20 of 120