Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Who put the B in the Ballyhoo?

Who put the B in the Ballyhoo?

Carlyn Beccia
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2007   ISBN: 978-0618717187

Most of us are fascinated by circuses and the circus life. The animals, the shows, and the colorful personalities make the whole circus world seem larger than life. In this book Carlyn Beccia explores circuses on a number of levels. There is the alphabet side of the story with each page featuring a circus related word set in a short rhyming poem. For example C is for "creepy slithering beasts entwined" and "L is for legendary."

The small poem introducing the word is then followed by a short piece of text expanding on the word used in the poem. The pieces of text often describe the feats of a famous circus personality. These include Annie Oakley, Harry Houdini, Skippy the boxing kangaroo, Daisy and Violet Hilton the Siamese twins, and Louis Cyr the strongman.

As a backdrop for the poems and text sections Carlyn Beccia has created very authentic looking illustrations that resemble vintage circus posters. The 'posters' are colorful and include beautiful scripts.

This lovely and unique picture book will give readers many things to look at and interesting things to read. They will meet fascinating circus personalities, and they will come to better understand what circus life in the heyday of circuses must have been like.