Son of the Circus – A Victorian Story

Son of the Circus book cover

Author: EL Norry

Finished on: 23 July 2020

Where did I get this book: Borrowed from my children

Who’s heard of Pablo Fanque? I certainly hadn’t. But, by the time I finished this book, I felt like I knew him.

He is the first black circus owner in Victorian Britain, a larger than life character who captivates everyone he meets except, to start with at least, Ted, the son he left behind in Bradfield while he went off to run his circus.

When Pablo turns up at the house on the outskirts of Sheffield Ted shares with his mum and older, but poorly, brother George, Ted is horrified to learn that he’ll be taken away to join the circus with a father he doesn’t even know.

Who hasn’t dreamed of running away to join the circus, though? Let’s face it, parents probably do as much as children. My seven year-old loved this book but, don’t tell anyone, so did my fourteen year-old, who is probably a little older than the target age bracket, because the subject matter is so compelling.

Throughout lockdown, they’ve had a weekly book club with their cousins and it’s been challenging sometimes to find books that appeal to the whole age range. Norry was one of the few authors who fit the bill, along with a chap called Roald Dahl who’s pretty good too.

We follow Ted as he gets to know his new circus family and tries to find a place for himself in that world. There are plenty of twists and turns, something quite literally, along his journey – and it’s a marvellous ride.

I’d recommend this book for children aged from about six to twelve – but parents will enjoy it just as much. Adventure, the circus – and Sheffield. What’s not to like?

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