There has been a lot of fanfare about Circus Mirandus and while it is a unique story, I wasn’t totally enthralled. For me, I didn’t fall in love with the characters, but felt that the ambitious plot was executed well. Micah has been raised by his Grandpa Ephraim, who has shared with him amazing stories about a magical circus. As Grandpa Ephraim’s health begins to decline, he lets Micah in on the secret that Circus Mirandus is real and a man named Lighbender has promised him a miracle. Micah wants his grandfather to get better, so he sets out to find Circus Mirandus and the Lightbender.
The more Micah learns about Circus Mirandus, the more he also starts to find out about his grandfather’s past. Beasley has done a good job weaving the complicated plot between the present and past, and all the questions about characters and what motivates them were answered. I felt that a few of the scenes were awkward, such as the whole scene when Micah and Lightbender were riding Big Jean. The characters felt flat and one-dimensional; you could categorize each one clearly as “good” or “bad.” They had one emotion, and I never felt they were engaging. Gertrudis and Victoria are too bitter and evil, which made their characters feel overdone.
Micah’s friendship with Jenny, and his relationship with his grandfather were what kept me reading the story. Beasley also did an excellent job dealing with Grandpa Ephraim’s declining health.
For teachers that utilize Notice & Note, there are many signposts to be found, especially Memory Moments, Contrasts and Contradictions, Tough Questions, and Words of the Wiser.