Circus Mirandus, a debut novel by Cassie Beasley, is a wonderful middle grade read. Like many other ‘magic’ books, it laments the loss by adults of the ability to believe in magic and Circus Mirandus, the circus, tries to find those kids whose belief is so great that they are worth cultivating.
Micah Tuttle’s grandfather, Ephraim, is not well. Micah’s mean great-aunt Gertrudis (Ephraim’s sister) has come from Arizona to take care of Micah and Ephraim (Micah’s parents had died in a car accident and he was living with Ephraim). As the book begins “Four small words. That was all it took to set things in motion.” The four words summoned the Lightbender from Circus Mirandus who Ephraim had met decades ago, when he as a young boy, went to the Circus and became fascinated by the magic.
However, the wish that Ephraim wanted was vastly different than Micah’s who supposed that the Lightbender would cure his grandfather. When Ephraim finds out through the Lightbender’s parrot Chintzy, that the circus is coming, he tells Micah to go and experience the wonder. Micah takes along his unbelieving friend, Jenny Mendoza, who finally begins to understand.
The characters in Circus Mirdandus are interesting, including the Lightbender, the Head (who leads the circus), and Chintzy who will definitely make you laugh. The friendship that grows between the very staid Jenny and the believing Micah is tender. The love that exists between grandfather and grandson is touching. However, it isn’t too mushy to turn children away from the story.
If you want a fun middle grade read, maybe as an alternative to a darker Harry Potter, Circus Mirandus is a smart choice.