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THE FLOATING CIRCUS by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer


by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59990-185-5
Publisher: Bloomsbury

This rousing adventure set in 1852 Pittsburgh introduces readers to Owen and Zach, two boys from a poor white family who have been abandoned into the care of an orphanage. Figuring his younger brother has a better chance at being adopted alone, 12-year-old Owen runs away, finding work on a circus boat where he is befriended by Solomon, an ex-slave, and where he ultimately finds some happiness and even a new family of sorts. But that happiness begins to crack when Owen witnesses a runaway slave throwing himself out of a window rather than being caught, and it fully shatters when he learns that his friend Solomon has been apprehended by slavers who have disregarded his freedom papers. Owen is, for the most part, a likable and believable hero; although his epiphanies—about his father’s alcoholism and his mother’s decision to abandon him, for example—feel contrived and in some cases a bit too abrupt, readers will cheer him on as he makes his way, enthusiasm intact, through a very rough world. (author’s note, discussion guide) (Historical fiction. 10-14)