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Author: Chris Van Dusen

Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen

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Publisher: Candlewick Press,

Material: hard cover

Summary: The Circus Ship is a story about a ship carrying a boatload of circus animals and their cranky circus boss, Mr Paine. When Mr. Paine refuses to stop the ship because of bad weather, it crashes and the animals swim to a near by island. At first the townspeople think the animals are a real pain, but when a tiger saves little Emily Rose from a fire with his circus trick they win over the town! Everyone helps the animals hatch a great plan to keep them from ever having to go back to cranky Mr. Paine! This is a picture book adventure for young children.

Type of Reading: playtime reading, read aloud book, interactive reading

Recommended Age: read together: 2 to 6; read yourself: 7 to 9

Interest Level: 3 to 8

Reading Level: 2.7

Age of Child: Read with children ages 2 and 5.

Young Reader Reaction: My 5 year old was hesitant from the cover. He thought is was going to be a baby book (his words) but he was pleasantly surprised there was a "bad guy" (Mr. Paine), and a great problem to solve. He ended up loving the book! He especially loved the illustrations and the page that you had to find where the 15 animals were hiding. He wanted to read it gain and again so he could search for them. He said the villain, Mr. Paine, looked very cranky! He also said, "This is so cool!" when he had to find the hiding animals. My 2-year-old enjoyed the animal illustrations.

Adult Reader Reaction: I thought this book was wonderful! The illustrations were so crisp. They really allowed the reader feel the emotions in the story. The rhyming text was very smooth. It made reading with expression lots of fun!

Pros: The story has just enough conflict to keep the reader and listeners engaged in the story from beginning to end. The hidden animals were a great added bonus. The rhyming text was fun to read!

Cons: NONE!

Borrow or Buy: Buy. The rich illustrations and the great rhyming text would earn this book a space in my permanent library.


Educational Themes: The book offers a good introduction to a villain without being too scary. It was a good lesson that if you are a bully to people or animals nicely they won't want to be around you.

Notes: The Reading Tub® received a signed galley of this book at Book Expo America 2009.

Literary Categories: Fiction - picture book, animal characters, rhyme

Date(s) Reviewed: October 2009

Other Reviews: See Critics Reviews at; and reader feedback at


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