The Circus Ship has all of the elements of a lovely picture book. It’s bright and colorful, cute and funny, lively and real. An actual true story of a ship containing a circus full of animals was the inspiration for this story, but author Chris Van Dusen turns the story into a tale of animals who gain freedom from the shipwreck. An elephant, a zebra, a tiger, a lion, and a monkey are just a few of the creatures featured in this book. When their ocean trip to Boston is broken up, they swim to a nearby village and find a new home.
The book is told through perfectly written verse. It’s one of those books that was meant to be read aloud! We read it at our house before bedtime and it was a big success. The large pages full of colorful animals had us counting the animals that were hiding in the town. We also got to employ a few different voices during the reading, light and musical for some of the book and full of rage and bluster for other parts. It was a short but fun little read.
Circus lovers will instantly enjoy this amusing book, but so will non-circus lovers, like me. The story takes the circus into a homey new venue that pleases the animals and the reader. I also quite enjoyed the vocabulary and puns in the book, as well as the theme of finding a home where you are loved and wanted. Recommended for read-alouds for K-4.
To read about the legend of Royal Tar, the ship that sank off the coast of Maine containing a full circus of animals, check this blog's article on the event: The Shipwreck of the Royal Tar