The Great and Only Barnum
The life of showman Phineas Taylor Barnum gets show-stopping treatment in Fleming's latest biographical work. Presented as clever, resilient and ever-consumed with making a buck, the Barnum of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is brought to life in anecdotes over 11 chapters. Nicknamed Tale as a boy, he hated farmwork (I was always ready to concoct fun, or lay plans for money-making, but hand-work was decidedly not in my line). His personal struggles with alcohol and a less-than-happy marriage are detailed alongside his many public successes (and hoaxes). A tour of his famed American Museum and an account of a day at the circus (complete with descriptions of the human curiosities Barnum employed) set readers in the middle of the singular late 19th-century entertainment scene. As in a real circus, the large-format pages include plenty to grab readers' attention: white-on-black sidebars that put the entrepreneur's feats in context (African Americans were barred from entering Barnum's American Museum except on certain days), bw photos and advertising posters. Audiences will step right up to this illuminating and thorough portrait of an entertainment legend. Ages 8-12. Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
- 2009 Candace Fleming and Ray Fenwick
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