Synopses & Reviews
Twelve-year-old Owen forgoes an orphan train thats headed west only to find himself falling in with a completely unexpected group of misfits—circus performers on the River Palace. As this floating circus makes its way down the Mississippi, Owen slowly discovers that his fellow workers arent freaks, but loners, like he is. A brush with yellow-fever in New Orleans and a devastating storm threaten the boat and its passengers. But its the menace of slave catchers that poses the greatest danger of all, and will put Owens loyalty to a freed black man to the test.
"A circus boat in the 1850s is the offbeat setting for Zimmer's (Reaching for Sun) lively historical novel. Readers will be hooked from the start by the voice of the narrator, Owen, first met in a Pittsburgh orphanage as he describes the difference between him and his younger brother, Zach: 'Right follows Zach like a shadow, but wrong wears me like a skin.' Wanting the best for Zach, Owen runs away when, just before the two are put aboard an orphan train, Owen learns that Zach will have a much better chance of being adopted without a brother; from this chaotic beginning, Owen stumbles upon Solomon, a former slave, who brings him aboard the circus boat and gets him a job. As the boat travels south, Owen's awareness of slavery grows in a way that feels organic to the story. Historical details, such as the workings of a printing press, give readers a deeper taste of the era, and animal lovers will especially enjoy Zimmer's portrayal of the circus elephant that Owen comes to know. Bittersweet and satisfying. Ages 8 12." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In 1852 Ohio, twelve-year-old Owen steals aboard a floating circus called the River Palace, with nothing more in mind than catching a little of the show. But then a free black man named Solomon offers to take him on as an assistant animal keeper, and Owen discovers a family among the ragtag members of the circus-including a young elephant named Little Bet. A brush with yellowfever in New Orleans and a devastating storm threaten the boat and its crew. But it's the menace of slave catchers that poses the greatest danger of all, and that will put Owen's loyalty to Solomon and Little Bet to the test. This is a memorable tale of prejudice, race, and the relationships that transcend them. Inspired by the riverboat circuses of the nineteenth century, it also brings little known historical facts to life.
TRACIE VAUGHN ZIMMER has worked as a special education teacher and reading specialist. She is also the creator of more than 80 teacher's guides for numerous publishers and has published poetry books as well as the novel "Reaching for Sun." Tracie lives outside Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two children.
PRAISE FOR "REACHING FOR SUN"
"Like taking slow bites from a piece of homemade lemon pie-sharp sweet and honest."
-Linda Sue Park, Newbery Medal winner
"Josie's strength shines as she handles sadness and loss as well as recovery and progress.""-Kirkus Reviews, "starred review
Inspired by the riverboat circuses of the 19th century, this memorable tale of prejudice, race, and the relationships that transcend them brings little-known historical facts to life.
About the Author
Tracie Vaughn Zimmer has worked as a special education teacher and reading specialist. She is also the creator of more than 80 teachers guides for numerous publishers (including Bloomsbury), and has published a book of poetry, Sketches from a Spy Tree, a NYPL Best Book. She lives in [Waxhaw, North Carolina.] www.tracievaughnzimmer.com