D is for Duncan, Lois “Song of the Circus”
Reviewed by Evan Banned
The reader is introduced to the world of the circus, a magical place filled with a myriad of complex and interesting characters. As the story progresses, two children must face a most ferocious beast and prove that carny children are both creepy and weird.
The descriptions and illustrations help to bring the world of the circus alive with a child’s view. The words are in poetic verse, as the title suggests, simple and filled with whimsy and fun. The illustrations are fashioned as a child would fashion them, with odd angles and disproportionate bodies that give an innocence to the work and the atmosphere it creates.
The characters are not very fleshed out as we are given only the briefest of introductions before the story begins revving towards the climax. The protagonists of the story are given very little to do, making their sudden turn to heroics wholly unbelievable. What makes this story even more unbelievable are the introductions so late in the story of plot centric characters such as the Bareback Riders and the Fat Lady’s elephant.
The message of the story is a simplified telling of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience with a circus background. The models of childhood and the tiger are clearly taken directly from Blake’s work, yet given a hero’s slant as a confrontation with the tiger (i.e. adulthood, experience) have the children ban together and triumph, giving the clear message that carny children never grow up. I can get behind this.
As in the other book I reviewed by Duncan, Killing Mr. Griffin, the author has retained the same writing style, albeit in verse form. The structure is the same, with introduction to characters followed by action and resolution, yet the pace is daunting. Duncan also does not trust the reader, giving exposition on each page rather than simply in each chapter as she did in Griffin. As this book has significantly less pages, this can be forgiven. Also, I liked the art. It was kinda cool and stuff.
Why was this book banned?
I am not sure is there has ever been any formal efforts to ban this work, but it does have to children overcoming a tiger by shouting at it so that’s not a very good life lesson. Also, there’s scatalogical humor. Poop. Heh.