SAWDUST AND SPANGLES

THE AMAZING LIFE OF W.C COUP

Though so sketchy that his death (and the fact that the title is borrowed from his autobiography) isn’t even mentioned, this profile of the indefatigable and once-renowned circus impresario captures the fascination with spectacle that drove him, alone and in partnership with P.T. Barnum, to organize a number of circuses, sideshows and other popular attractions. The authors tally his innovations, which included the idea of a “circus train,” multiple rings under the Big Top and the magnificent New York Aquarium, and then close with a page of further colorful anecdotes. Potter depicts Coup and some of the circus and sideshow acts he presented in broadly brushed, typically stylized scenes, taking him from dazzled small-town lad to nattily dressed showman proudly presenting his array of marine life to viewers. Barnum tends to outshine all of his contemporaries and successors, but here’s at least a suggestion that his story wasn’t the only one. (Picture book/biography. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-9351-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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DORY STORY

Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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