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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: circus, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 87
1. The Boundless (2014)

Boundless. Kenneth Oppel. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

Three hours before the avalanche hits, William Everett is sitting on an upturned crate, waiting for his father. The town doesn't even have a name yet.

If you love historical action-adventures with danger and mysteries and secrets and murders, then The Boundless might be a very good fit for you, especially if you love children's books, or circuses, or trains.

The first chapter serves as a prologue. It introduces the hero, of course, Will Everett, and many of the other characters as well. Readers learn that Will loves to draw. Will meets a mystery-girl that mesmerizes him, that will continue to mesmerize him for over three years. Will meets Cornelius Van Horne, the manager of the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Will gets invited to go along on a train ride. His father, James Everett, works for the railroad, they'll meet him at the end of the line. He'll meet several people on his journey. He'll hear things, see things. For example, he'll see the plans for the Boundless, and hear of this man's visionary idea for train travel. Things happen that will change his life forever.

The rest of the novel is set three years later and covers a short span--perhaps a week. In that week, much will happen. Will, the hero, will face DANGER and have to prove himself again and again and again. Will is many things, talented, for example, but courageous not so much. He is forced to risk much, to face many different kinds of threats and dangers. He also spends much of his time thinking and pondering.

Will has one idea of his future: what he wants, what he needs. His father has another idea. The two are opposites essentially. Part of him wants to completely reject his father's plans for him. Another part is scared. So when he's not actually at risk of dying, Will ponders the future.

I liked this one. I didn't love it. But I think for those that like action-adventure, this one could prove appealing.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on The Boundless (2014) as of 2/10/2015 12:06:00 PM
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2. No Landscape but...More 3/5 Challenge Art

Here are a few more of my early illustrations, moving between whimsical and more realistic.

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3. Don't overlook these books!

I love the seven books my panel selected as the finalists for YA Speculative Fiction. I'm really proud of our shortlist as a representation of the best YA Spec Fic books of 2014. However, there are always the ones that got away, the ones that didn't quite make it. When seven people are deliberating, compromises have to be made, and sometimes, no matter how passionate you are about a book, you can't convince your fellow judges. Here are some of the 2014 Cybils nominees that I loved, but which didn't make the cut as finalists:

Divided We Fall Trilogy: Book 1: Divided We Fall
Trent Reedy

This is a frighteningly believable book about a near-future conflict between a state and the Federal Government, with the National Guard caught in the middle.  Exciting plot, credible and distinctive teen male voice, and well-developed protagonist.

Gwenda Bond

For anyone who has ever wanted to be Circus. Part mystery, part circus story, and a bit of magic, this story of a young wire walker trying to overcome her family's past and prove herself is dripping with atmosphere and loaded with teen appeal.

Love Is the Drug
Alaya Dawn Johnson

Federal agents investigating Washington DC prep school student Emily Bird may be more of a danger to her than the rapidly spreading global pandemic. An exciting thriller that shows the stark contrast between the power elite in Northwest DC and the working class in the Northeast, and the racism that exists in both.

Shadowfell #03: The Caller
Juliet Marillier

The conclusion of a terrific high fantasy series that started with Shadowfell. I've loved all the books in this series, but sadly I've been unsuccessful at convincing my fellow judges to shortlist any of them. With well developed characters, a page-turning plot, and themes of sacrifice and choice, this may be the best book of the trilogy.

The Girl from the Well
Rin Chupeco

A creepy paranormal horror story told from the point of view of a centuries-old ghost. With distinctive voice, an almost poetic writing style, and a strong dose of Japanese culture, The Girl from the Well has a lot of teen appeal. This one came very close to making the shortlist, but we had some concerns about the mentally ill being used in a stereotyped way for horror effect.

A Creature of Moonlight
Rebecca Hahn

As the daughter of a dragon and a princess, Marni is torn between two worlds, the wild and beautiful but dangerous forest, and the equally dangerous life at court. A beautifully lyrical, character-driven fantasy with a theme of choice and being true to yourself.

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4. Green Circus

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5. Non-fiction books aren’t just about facts: 2 playful artist biographies which encourage self expression

In this day and age where there are fewer and fewer independent bookshops, some of the most exciting bricks-and-mortar places for discovering new children’s books are the shops in museums and art galleries.

Whilst they may not carry a huge range of stock, they often have quirky, unusual books which would never make it to the surface on the shelves in a highstreet chain bookshop. Two recent publications by Princeton Architectural Press are prime examples of the sort of books I mean: Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso, both by Patricia Geis, are part of a stylish, new and playful Meet the Artist! series which I really like.


Alexander Calder contains a simple biography of the artist’s life and then focuses on several of Calder’s recurrent or particularly important themes or pieces. We learn about his love of making toys, his circus, wire sculptures, mobiles/stabiles and what my kids instantly recognised as what they call “junk modelling”, but which is here referred to as sculpture out of “found objects”. So far, so fairly normal for a non-fiction book about an artist.

But this book is not like your average artist biography because it is full of surprises. There is pop-up bunting, a length of metal chain to play with, press out card toy reproductions, flaps, string and cut-outs. This book is about really engaging with Calder’s art, not just looking at it, but doing it, and viewing it from all angles.


To describe this as a “novelty” book would be unfair, as that label often carries the connotations of cheap gimmickry. Here the physicality of the book engages the reader in a way that I think gives valuable insight into the artist: this book is playful and unconventional, just as Calder was.

The Pablo Picasso volume is equally design conscious, with short pieces of text and white expanses left around the crisp reproductions of Picasso’s art so that they really stand out. The pop-ups are not quite as successful in this volume; sculpture, inherently 3-D, is simply more exciting when it pops up off the page than a reproduction of a flat painting, even with clever use of stands and frames.

Whilst these books might not be favoured in public libraries, with all their moving and loose parts being unlikely to stand up to masses of (quite rightly) active reading, I love how they are a stepping stone to encouraging self-expression (“If a famous artist can sculpt with clothes pegs, then I can try that too!”) and through that, self confidence. Non-Fiction book aren’t just about learning facts!

Alexander Calder‘s Circus is one of his most famous pieces of art and so my girls decided to create their own version. First up M made some bunting out of paint chips. She folded them in half, and then cut out a triangle that she folded over a length of string and held in place with a glue dot.



For our circus artists we downloaded, printed and coloured this great circus set from Made by Joel and made further unusual attractions out of corks and jewellery wire (in the spirit of Calder’s wire sculptures and found objects sculptures).




Watch out for our terrifying circus lions!

Whilst making our circus and then playing with it we listened to:

  • Calder’s Circus by The Tiptons (here it is on Spotify)
  • Swingin’ Little Duck (Alexander Calder) by Hope Harris (you can listen for free here on Soundcloud)
  • Calder’s Circus by Goin’ Monkey (here it is on Spotify)
  • Other activities you might be inspired to get up to having read the Alexander Calder Meet the Artist! book include:

  • Browsing some museum and art galleries’ online shops and browse for interesting books. I like the shops from the Tate Modern, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Design Museum in particular.
  • Creating a pocket circus, like this one from MollyMoo.
  • Balancing a Calder Mobile, with this tutorial from Salamander Art.
  • A third book in the Meet the Artist! series is planned for the Autumn of 2014: Henri Matisse will be the subject of the new volume and I’m certainly looking forward to it.

    Disclosure: I received free review copies of both Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso from the publishers.

    3 Comments on Non-fiction books aren’t just about facts: 2 playful artist biographies which encourage self expression, last added: 3/14/2014
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    6. review#407 – Claude at the Circus By Alex T. Smith

    .    .  .  .  .  .  . PEACHTREE BOOK BLOG TOUR Claude at the Circus By Alex T. Smith Peachtree Publishers 5 Stars . Back Cover:  Meet Claude. He’s no ordinary dog—he leads an extraordinary life! When his owners leave for the countryside, Claude decides what adventure he will have. What will happen today? Opening:  …

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    7. Letter Z

    1 Comments on Letter Z, last added: 6/10/2012
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    8. Chained by Lynne Kelly

    5 Stars Meet Chanda.  She is the catalyst for today’s review of Chained, a smart, well-written, and engrossing novel by Lynne Kelly.  Chanda is a young girl bitten by fever mosquitoes and now carries a dangerously high temperature.  She needs medical help now.  With the help of a neighbor, Amma, her mother, takes Chanda to [...]

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    9. French Circus Carousel Miniatures - Rotates Mechanicals

    This was resized in my Studio for the MINIATURE / CIRCUS / CAROUSEL / LOVER.
    Handmade in my studio. The Artwork is from an Antique print.

    French Circus Carousel Miniature
    • The expression image d'Épinal has become proverbial in French and refers to an emphatically traditionalist and naïve depiction of something, showing only its good aspects. Info sourcs- wikapedia
    • Épinal prints were prints on popular subjects rendered in bright sharp colours, sold in France in the 19th Century. They owe their name to the fact that the first publisher of such images — Jean-Charles Pellerin — having been born in Épinal, named the printing house he founded in 1796

    It took over 2 days for me to print, cut and assemble.
    Each tiny Circus figure is carefully cut and assembled to the interior wheel.
    • THe small one is 4-1/2"" High x 2" diameter base
    • Working mechanical.
    • The inner carousel rotates clockwise as the viewer turns the bead on the top.
    • Each CIrcus performer is cut out separately and glued into place on the wheel that rotates.
    • The center post is wood, the topper is a dimensional AB plastic crystal bead with the very top being a gold colored bead -all the rest of the Carousel is of cardstock paper.
    • Reproduction of a paper toy.
    • The coloring may vary from the original Antique print and shades shown here.

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    10. Chasing Watermelons by Kevin White

    4 Stars Chasing Watermelons Kevin White Rex White 32 Pages     Ages: 3 to 6 ……………… Press Release: When Duck opens a crate of watermelons for a watermelon feast, they begin to roll. Duck chases after them. One by one, Duck invites Goat, Pig, Chicken, and Cow to join the chase by promising, “If you help, [...]

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    11. Autobiography of a Duck by John Arnold

    3 Stars Autobiography of a Duck John Arnold 36 Pages    Ages:  7 and  up …………. Autobiography of a Duck is just that, the life of one Pekin Duck, not a chick, as told by the duck. Duck hatched and then lived with his siblings and his mother on a farm. Then one day, some humans [...]

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    12. Circus Train

    9 Comments on Circus Train, last added: 12/25/2012
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    13. Skizze für ein Klappbilderbuch

    Ich habe vor ein paar Tagen ein paar ältere Skizzen für ein Klappbilderbuch wiedergefunden, das leider bis heute nie verwirklicht wurde.

    0 Comments on Skizze für ein Klappbilderbuch as of 5/2/2013 5:57:00 PM
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    14. nice owl’s small story




    to be continued…

    Filed under: children's illustration, circus, dances, journeys, poetry

    3 Comments on nice owl’s small story, last added: 5/30/2013
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    15. POLAROID

    0 Comments on POLAROID as of 6/9/2013 11:03:00 AM
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    16. Polaroid

    3 Comments on Polaroid, last added: 7/4/2013
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    17. review#398 – The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas by David Almond

    .. The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas by David Almond Oliver Jeffers, illustrator Candlewick Press 4 Stars Inside Jacket:  Since all the jobs on the quayside disappeared, Stan’s Uncle Ernie has developed an extraordinary fascination with canning fish.  Overnight, life at 69 Fish Quay Lane has turned barmy.  But when Uncle Ernie’s madcap obsession takes …

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    18. Wall Mural

    For some reason Peak Dental let me paint on their walls, and I had a ton of fun doing it! Peak Dental is in Falmouth, ME and one of the most amazing offices I've ever seen (and I have seen a LOT of dentists). They are completely "green", use no harsh chemicals, and all digital x-rays. On top of that they do exceptional work and are so nice and friendly! If you are in the area I would definitely give them a visit. They are running a promotion for new patients too.

    Since they were open to ideas, I suggested a circus themed mural with funky whimsical characters for their children's area. It took about 13 hrs to complete.


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    19. Letter Q

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    20. Classroom Connections: CHAINED

    Classroom Connections is a series meant to introduce teachers to new books.

    CHAINED - Lynne Kelly

    Lynne Kelly has written a story that unwraps the heart and asks it to be brave, loyal, and above all, kind.  Readers of all ages will worry for Hastin as he marks the wall that records his bondage to a cruel master, but they will ultimately celebrate his jubilant triumph.  This story unwrapped my own heart. –Kathi Appelt, author of the Newbery Honor and New York Times bestseller THE UNDERNEATH

    reading level: 10 and up
    setting: Northern India

    Please tell us about your book.
    CHAINED is a midgrade novel about 10-year-old Hastin, who lives in a rural village of northern India with his mother and sister. To help pay off the hospital bills from his sister's illness, Hastin takes a job as an elephant keeper at a run-down circus far from home. Life at the circus isn't the adventure he expected, but he and the elephant, Nandita, become best friends. They're both captive workers for the cruel circus

    2 Comments on Classroom Connections: CHAINED, last added: 5/17/2012
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    21. Letter S

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    22. Letter U

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    23. Letter V

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    24. Letter W

    1 Comments on Letter W, last added: 5/29/2012
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    25. Letter X

    1 Comments on Letter X, last added: 6/2/2012
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