THE GREAT AND ONLY BARNUM by Candace Fleming
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THE GREAT AND ONLY BARNUM

The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P.T. Barnum
Age Range: 10 - 14
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KIRKUS REVIEW

P.T. Barnum is likely to bring to mind the famous circus, but there is much more to the legendary showman, and Fleming brings all of him boldly to life. Born into poverty, Barnum’s love for money came at an early age; his first foray into entertainment was the purchase of Joice Heth, reputed to be a 161-year-old slave formerly owned by George Washington’s father. When the hoax was revealed, Barnum’s name became forever linked with humbug, but he discovered that people did not mind being fooled if they were entertained. The author takes readers on a riveting tour of Barnum’s seemingly cursed American Museum, where they encounter such fascinating characters as Siamese twins Chang and Eng and the “Living Skeleton.” Much as she admires her subject, she does not flinch in revealing Barnum’s notable faults—his cruelty as a husband, indifference as a father, corrupting influence on the dwarf Tom Thumb and exploitation of animals and the deformities and handicaps of human “curiosities.” Handsomely designed, the book is abundantly illustrated with circus posters and handbills, photographs, etchings and other visuals. As revealing as it is entertaining. (Biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-375-84197-2
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2009




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