I'm so thrilled to have the Circus Mirandus Blog Tour and author Cassie Beasley stopping by today! Circus Mirandus is a truly spectacular middle-grade novel full of magic, wonder, and heart...
by Cassie Beasley
June 2, 2015Dial Books
Micah Tuttle believes in magic, even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve. Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real—and the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather. The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn't want to keep his promise. And now it's up to Micah to get the miracle he came for. Readers will fall in love with CIRCUS MIRANDUS, which celebrates the power of seeing magic in the world.
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR
★ “On one level, the book is a fantastical circus romp… On another, it's both serious and thick with longing… A delicious confection and much more: it shows that the human heart is delicate, that it matters, and that it must be handled with care.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
★ “Circus Mirandus is not a simple story, but readers will be rewarded for delving into its intricacies. This gripping fantasy tale will have readers hooked from the opening scene to the breathtaking—and unexpected—conclusion.” —School Library Journal, starred review
★ “Beasley’s debut is a bit of its own three-ring circus, masterfully diverting readers’ attention among the pressing matter of Ephraim’s illness, the inventive descriptions of Circus Mirandus in Ephraim’s flashbacks and Micah’s visits, and the larger, more serious tragedy of those who refuse to believe…Readers will be left with…the hope…that those who still believe will always have magic in their lives.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Debut author Beasley has built an imaginative world in evocative, painterly prose, particularly the circus, and she’s filled it with compellingly multifaceted characters.” —Booklist
“Circus Mirandus blooms before the reader’s eyes…This lighthearted middle-grade fantasy is an ideal pick for those who want to be immersed in an imaginative world where there is no limit on creativity and adventure.” —VOYA
#1 on the Summer Kids’ Indie Next List!
Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers
“Circus Mirandus is magical and real—if you believe. This is one of my favorites on the list without a doubt.” —Arna Lewis, Buttonwood Books & Toys (Cohasset, MA)
“Every now and again a book comes along that completely captures my heart and imagination. Circus Mirandus is one of those books.” —Laura Donohoe, Malaprops (Asheville, NC)
“Magic, like hope and dreams, comes in many forms… A charming, tender, a hold-your-breath kind of book.” —Margaret Brennan Neville, The King's English (Salt Lake City, UT)
“This book is chock full of magic and love. Great storytelling, delightful characters—and that cover!” —Francine Lucidon, The Voracious Reader (Larchmont, NY)
“I knew I was going to love this barely a page into it. The characters are dynamic, the illustrations delightful and the story is filled to the brim with tenderness, magic, adventure and a story so brilliant that adults will want to find a child to curl up and read this aloud to.”
— Jesica DeHart, BookPeople
What three words best describe Circus Mirandus?
Marvelous. Magical. Ancient.
Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers to give Circus Mirandus a try?
This book is about a kid doing something amazing to save the person he loves most in the world, and that amazing something happens to involve a magic circus, a self-important parrot, and an exceptional new friend.
Grab a copy of Circus Mirandus and answer the following:
My favorite is Chapter 35: “On the Way to Arizona.” It’s at the end of the book, and it’s what I was always writing toward. I knew the ending of the story almost before I knew the beginning, so this chapter contains the one scene I had in mind the whole time I was writing the first draft.
29. It’s when readers first meet the young version of Ephraim, and it’s written differently from the preceding chapters.
Inside the Lightbender’s tent! (Which is a bit of a cheat because the Lightbender’s tent contains all kinds of settings, from Antarctica to Ancient Rome.)
flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentences teaser:
I landed on page 145: “He [Micah] was crossing his fingers and his toes while he waited for Jenny to arrive. It was the kind of night that seemed to require good fortune in the largest possible amount.”
What inspired Circus Mirandus? How did the story come to be?
When I’m writing, stories come from everywhere. The initial spark might be something you read or see on television or overhear, but then pieces get pulled in from every corner of your brain while you write until the story isn’t really coming from one place but from a thousand. For example, the quipu Micah and Jenny are working on is something I learned about in fifth or sixth grade in my social studies class. Originally they were working on a different project, but I needed one that would fit the story better, and I eventually dragged the memory of the quipu out of my head. I have a pet parrot that acts a lot like Chintzy. I’m not sure, but I think I got the idea for the gorilla balloon from one I used to see outside a car dealership when I was a kid. These things all combine with elements of pure fantasy to make the finished product. I don’t quite know how. It really is a kind of magic.
Can you tell us a bit about your characters Micah and Jenny? What makes them special and sets them apart from other middle-grade characters?
Micah and Jenny are both ten years old. They’re not friends at the start of the story.
Micah considers himself to be average. He’s not all that close to other children his age, but that’s mostly because his relationship with his grandfather has been such a huge part of his life. He and Grandpa Ephraim have always done everything together, so now, with Grandpa Ephraim so ill, Micah’s adrift.
Jenny Mendoza is the smartest person in Micah’s class. She’s recently moved to town with her mother and father so that her father can go to vet school. At home, Jenny’s parents are very supportive. They’re a close family. But at school Jenny’s having trouble making friends and fitting in. She doesn’t believe in Circus Mirandus, but she believes in what Micah is trying to do for his grandfather.
If you were to travel with the Circus Mirandus, what job or act would you love to have?
Maybe the Lightbender’s power is the obvious one to want, but I wouldn’t want his job. He never gets a day off. I think I’d love to have the ticket-taker’s job. I would be terrible at it, a total pushover. Everyone would get to come in if they left me in charge of Circus Mirandus’s gate.
As a middle-grade author, why do you think MG is so important and popular? What is one middle-grade book that you that you think everyone should read at least once?
I think reading is important at every stage of life. Books open our eyes to the way other people think and feel. They teach us empathy, which is something we could all use a little more of. As for MG in particular, I think it’s the age when many kids are finally able to take charge of their own reading.
Maybe it’s different for other people, but I remember having most early readers and easy chapter books chosen for me by teachers or other adults. When I started reading middle grade books, it was the first time I was allowed to go crazy in the library, and that was it for me. I got my hands on a few really meaty “big kid” books, and I was a reader for life. I want that moment (the one when reading goes from being something that’s sometimes a chore to something you can’t wait to do every day) to happen for every young person.
As for the book choice…I have so many favorites, but if I had to pick just one MG that I thought should be read by everyone I think I would probably have to go with Lois Lowry’s The Giver.
Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at cooking. I find it so relaxing. With cooking, you put the ingredients together according to the instructions, and the dish comes out the way you intended. And when you’re in the mood you can be creative, but you don’t have to be. Writing doesn’t work that way.
I’m really embarrassed to admit how often I’m just not paying attention to the world around me. If you meet me on a non-writing day, we’re good, but I spend ninety percent of my waking hours daydreaming various stories, and I sometimes have entire conversations with people without ever really knowing what’s been said.
The last great book I read was I’m not sure. It was either Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson or An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. I loved both of them, but I can’t remember which I read last!
If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Circus Mirandus, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
It would be a dark chocolate cupcake with a milk chocolate ganache filling, topped with peanut butter frosting and crushed caramel popcorn and gold edible glitter, and it would be served on an Old Country Roses patterned china saucer, and it would be called the Double Chocolate Mirandus, and you would want to serve it with coffee I think, but you could also…what? Of course I’ve put a lot of thought into this! It’s an important question.
Thank you so much for stopping by, Cassie!
CASSIE BEASLEY is from rural Georgia, where, when she's not writing, she helps out on the family pecan farm. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. CIRCUS MIRANDUS is her first novel.