So this was certainly an interesting read. At a first look, the children’s book Davey’s Adventures with the Clyde Beatty Circus did not seem to capture my attention. However, you can’t judge a book by it’s cover! It was an easy read that gives insight into circus life. It was co-writen by Jane Beatty, Clyde Beatty’s wife, and Ann Pinchot, an already established author. So although it focuses mainly on circus life, the story is done well enough to hold one’s attention.
The book follows the main character, Davey, on a two week adventure where he gets to tag along with Loppy, a clown who knew Davey’s father from school. Through Davey’s eyes the reader experiences most aspects of the circus, and although it is romanticised, it remains acurate. The highlight of the book, and what one might assume would be the author’s most knowledgeable area, was the chapters devoted to Clyde Beatty and his cats. From a detailed description of the act to the process of removing a tiger’s tooth, the writing revolving around the cats is detailed and engaging. Of course other circus aspects are covered; everything from the cookhouse to the setting up of tents. Certain acts are mentioned in passing, such as the various side show numbers, and others, such as the clowns, are discussed in greater detail.
Essentially the book is a survey of circus life from an outsiders perspective. There are glimpses of circus history, such as the reference to the origin of clown white face coming from a baker’s helper that entertianed those passing by through the window (which is actually a reference to Pedrolino, a Commedia dell’arte character).
So if you like the circus and you want to learn a little about what life was like on the road in the 1960’s then this may be a good place to begin. However, if you already know a little about circus history or want a detailed look at the circus or a particular act, then this book is not for you. There are certainly much more comprehensive books out there, although it might not be a fair comparison as this clearly targets a young audience and revolves around a young boy’s experience.
If you are interested you can get the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Daveys-adventures-Clyde-Beatty-Circus/dp/B0007IWVR…