The Traveling Circus

The Traveling Circus  by Marie-Louise Gay

Marie-Louise Gay has written a series of books in which Charlie and his family travel the world.  There’s Travels With My Family, On the Road Again, Summer in the City and the latest installment, The Travelling Circus.

Charlie’s parents are quite adventurous and often take their children to obscure places.  In this chapter book, the family travels to Croatia and discovers many interesting places and characters along the way.

Max, Charlie’s younger brother, often gets himself into trouble, but Charlie is always there to rescue him.  When Max gets lost touring an old church, his mother panics. But Charlie finds him – he can always figure out where Max has gone.  Max also falls out of their fishing boat but luckily gets caught in the fishing net and hauled back into the boat.

At one point, Max and Charlie get lost together in a maze made of low stone walls.  Just when they think they have found the way out they encounter the hermit of Vrgada:  “It was a man who looked like a scarecrow…  In one hand he was holding the skin of an animal.  In the other hand he had a heavy stick.” (131)  Max and Charlie make their escape, and discover that no one ever sees the hermit of Vrgada — except them.

Most of their adventures are more lighthearted.  When the power goes out one night, Max and Charlie discover their parents and all the other adults dancing to music from the car radio while the headlights illuminate the scene.  They learn that you don’t always have to speak the same language to communicate, as many different people, including Croatians, Slovakians and Canadians join in their dance.

The Traveling Circus is ultimately a story about a quirky, curious family that loves discovering different cultures — but they always return home to Montreal. Great read-aloud for the Kindergarten/Grade 1 set. Grades K-3.