Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Feeding the Flying Fanellis: And Other Poems from a Circus Chef (Carolrhoda Pict

Feeding the Flying Fanellis: And Other Poems from a Circus Chef (Carolrhoda Pict

Kate Hosford
Illustrator:  Cosei Kawa 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Lerner, 2015   ISBN: 978-1467739054

When the circus comes to town everyone comes flocking to the big top to see the trapeze artists, the clowns, the strongman, the performing animals, the human cannonball and other spectacular spectacles. What you might not know is that there is someone, someone in the background, whom all these colorful characters depend on. The chef cannot do a cartwheel, and high places make him “dizzy.” He could never be a clown because he doesn’t “make funny faces,” but without his culinary creations the performers would be in big trouble.

The chef often has to create very specialized meals. For example, the ringmaster is on the go all the time, and so the chef has created a picnic for the man which can fit in the ringmaster’s top hat. No matter how busy the ringmaster gets, he always knows that under his hat he will find a little something to quench his thirst and fill his belly.

Sometimes the chef has to literally come to the rescue with his delectable concoctions. When the strongman joined the circus he was homesick for his homeland, so the chef made him Russian treats and tea to comfort the big fellow. Then there was the time when the contortionist twins got themselves in a terrible knot. It was the chef who made them a tarte flambé, and when they smelled the tarte the girls were so delighted that their knot came undone.

Some of the performers have been specific requirements. For example, Little Blue, the dog who jumps through hoops, will only eat soup, and if he is not given any “His perky ears will start to droop” and he will refuse to perform.

The tightrope walker also demands a special diet. It needs to be balanced and she will not consume any caffeine or sugar. Food that isn’t wholesome and made from scratch is verboten as far as she is concerned. Though he thinks that she is rather “uptight,” the chef does not blame the tightrope walker for her attitude. After all, he says, “Who wouldn’t be, from such a height?”

This wonderful poetry picture book takes us into the world of circus performers, and gives us a taste of the challenges that they face as they practice and perform. Holding them all together, catering to all their needs (some of which are downright peculiar) is the chef, who slaves away day and night to take care of the people and animals who are his friends.