Welcome to a particular type of circus—where the child performers may just change the world “one acrobat, contortionist, and flyer at a time.”
The mission of a youth social circus is to bring together young people who don’t ordinarily meet and to teach them to work together as circus performers. The young performers of Circus Harmony in St. Louis and the Galilee Circus in Israel demonstrate what happens when people of different backgrounds work together to perform—to “fly above the fray” and “walk the tightrope of politics and friendships.” Levinson expertly establishes the historical context behind the circuses—the legacy of racial segregation in St. Louis and the troubled history of Arabs and Jews in Palestine—and shows that, in spite of the world around them, “Jews and Arabs…blacks, whites, Muslims, Christians—all kids—can get along. And that circus is an especially enchanting means in which to do so.” The text itself is a juggling act as she follows nine young performers, two circus directors, and the coaches in telling the story, based on 120 hours of personal interviews. Color photographs, sidebars, and a lengthy pronunciation guide to Arabic and Hebrew names, words, and expressions used in the text round out a thoroughly enjoyable volume.
Enchanting indeed—and inspiring as well. (Nonfiction. 9-14)