Merging fact and fiction, Van Dusen’s award-winning The Circus Ship is a dramatic tale of adversity and resilience, kindness and, well, comeuppance.
Poor weather conditions and villainy capsize a circus ship off the coast of Maine, leaving fifteen animals adrift in chilly water. Through strength of will and perseverance, the quirky menagerie sticks together, reaching at last a picturesque island. One by one they take refuge within a sleeping parish, in pantries and on woodpiles, amongst tulips and within bloomers. Such is the scene greeting human residents upon waking the next morning—a veritable circus on their doorstep (or closer still)! Is there hope for these two groups coming together in harmony? And can the animals alone save themselves when their despicable owner comes calling?…
Gorgeous artwork and a spry rhyme render The Circus Ship a successful pick for toddlers (if my 2.5-year-old is any indication!) Bright colours and expressive illustrations lend themselves well to prolonged consideration. Moreover, sleuthing out the animals themselves, mid-story, is sure to be a highlight for children and parents alike. While the length of the narrative somewhat tests the patience of my little one, its overall quick pace and fairly straightforward vocabulary ultimately take her through to the end.
NB: The cover image has been taken from, and links back to, the author’s website.