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Who Put the B in Ballyhoo?by Carlyn Beccia
Synopses & Reviews
Illustrated in the vintage style of circus posters, this picture book captures the weird and wonderful while fascinating sidebars reveal historical truths behind America's circuses. Full color.
"'This abecedarium of circus posters introduces a collection of turn-of-the-century sideshow acts. It's clear that newcomer Beccia's own interest lies with circus posters as an art form; her most enthusiastic audience may be type designers and graphic artists. For younger readers, the flat, folk-Gothic style paintings soften the impact of occasionally disturbing images (a tattooed man, a bearded lady, a part mermaid/part monkey creature). For the letter 'w,' Waino and Plutano, the 'Wild Men of Borneo,' are painted as peculiar caricatures against a mustard-colored background. Beccia's verse description, with shaky meter, says, 'W is for Wicked/ A Devious Duo/ Can't behave, too depraved/ They belong in Borneo.' In the text below each page's plate, Beccia works to demystify the circus ('The brothers' real names were Barney and Hiram, and they were natives of Long Island, New York'), but doesn't go into seemingly necessary detail (such as why the inhabitants of Borneo were thought so depraved). She explains the derivation of expressions like 'hold your horses' (yelled by the crier at the head of the circus procession, who knew what happened when horses saw wild animals) and 'jumbo' (the elephant's name gave rise to the adjective that means 'big,' not the other way around). Though modern circuses are certainly tamer than the turn-of-the-century versions explored here, today's readers may be as entranced by Beccia's depictions of such spectacles as their forebearers were by the real thing. Ages 6-10.' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Before the days of TV, DVDs, and video games, there was the circus. When it came to town, businesses and schools would shut down. Folks would gather round, for there, right in front of their eyes, was drama, action, and intrigue. There was the grace ofthe bareback rider, the daring of the acrobat, the strangeness of the snake lady, and the delight of the dancing pigs.
Vintage-style circus posters capture the weird and the wonderful while fascinating sidebars reveal historical truths behind Americas circuses. What was it like when the circus came to town? This book, illustrated in rich oils, gives us a ringside seat.
About the Author
Carlyn Beccia made her picture book debut with the captivating Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo? The idea for The Raucous Royals, her second book, came after a trip to Paris: "I went to Versailles," she writes, "and discovered that Marie Antoinette never said her infamous line 'Let them eat cake.' Then I remembered also believing that Anne Boleyn had six fingers. After much digging, I discovered that one of her biographers after her death said she had an extra nail. A nail isn't a finger. That discovery led to another rumor and then another . . ." Besides painting, drawing, and researching royalty, Carlyn enjoyssalsa dancing, horseback riding, and raucous games of badminton with her husband. She lives in Lynnfield, Massachusetts.
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