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What Hooked Me in Cassie Beasley’s Circus Mirandus

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Megan: Circus Mirandus. I have to say, when our group took this book on, between the title and the cover, we were all like kids with saucer-shaped eyes. I mean, it’s a circus. Kids LOVE circuses. Grown-up kids like them just as much.

But you know what hooked me? What makes me want to say, “Read this!” to everyone between 10 and 82 (or maybe older, I don’t know why the cutoff has to be 82)? It’s because of friendship.

I truly believe that any book–any book that really digs into your heart and doesn’t let go–comes down to the relationships in it. For young adult, this is often a romantic relationship. But I think that’s what I love about middle grade. I love the focus on platonic friendship. This book gives us Jenny and Micah, and as one ascribes to magic and one doesn’t, you can see how they change and help each other. And maybe, best of all, help solve problems that seem out of reach–together.

John: I was drawn in by the tenacity of the main character. I think he had such an impact on me because I tend to write characters like this–characters that don’t want to change; from the start, they cling desperately to the purpose or cause they believe in. In Circus Mirandus, Micah loves his grandfather and believes his stories when no one else will. He defies an aunt that makes Lemony Snicket look like a saint and fights to convince Jenny, his new friend, of the reality of magic, but no matter the obstacle, he refuses to give in. While I love a character like Scrooge–the greatest character ever to undergo a dynamic change, I’m also drawn to characters who refuse to let the tempestuous world swirling around change them.

Jess: I got to visit a magic circus. It was wonder and adventure that hooked me.

I listened to part of this book on the road and couldn’t help looking down every street and into every tree grove. Could that overgrown lot be an invisible circus? If you believe in magic, then maybe.

In Circus Mirandus, the fantastical was Micah’s escape, his connection to family/friendship, and his instrument of letting go. That’s the power of fantasy. Imagining leads to exploration and possibilities. Much can be discovered when one is open to magic in the world.

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