The best circus story books for readers of age 8+

The Books I Picked & Why

Mr. Nobody's Eyes

By Michael Morpurgo

Mr. Nobody's Eyes

Why this book?

I’m a sucker for anything about chimps!

Set in post-war England, this charming story focuses on the relationship between 10-year-old Henry and Ocky, a mischievous chimpanzee he ‘accidentally’ steals from Mr Nobody at Blondini’s Circus.

After trouble at school and at home, and with the threat of having his secret friend discovered, Harry runs away with Ocky. Following a series of adventures, ending with a perilous situation at the seaside, Harry realises that not only is Ocky precious to Mr Nobody, but he is precious to his family too.


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Circus of Thieves on the Rampage, 2

By William Sutcliffe, David Tazzyman

Circus of Thieves on the Rampage, 2

Why this book?

Who doesn’t enjoy a fast-paced caper?

This story is full of quirky illustrations, colourful characters, and funny footnotes. Often conversational, Sutcliffe frequently addresses the reader as he relays the shenanigans leading up to circus legend and aerialist supreme, Quennie Bombazine’s cunning plan to catch her nemesis, Armitage Shanks, while at the same time reuniting Hannah and Billy with their circus father.

I would say that for reluctant readers who enjoy visual prompts and more of a comic-style format, this would be perfect.


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Circus Shoes

By Noel Streatfeild

Circus Shoes

Why this book?

I read that Noel Streatfeild actually spent time with a travelling circus to achieve authenticity in this story. Well, you can almost smell the greasepaint and sawdust.

Rather than being sent to separate orphanages, sheltered siblings Santa and Peter run away to Cob’s Circus where their Uncle Gus performs on the trapeze. Peter learns to ride and to understand animals, and Santa learns to tumble, but they need to persuade their uncle to like them and decide to keep them. Though old-fashioned, this tale is vivid with colour and spectacle, and the atmosphere so well-captured.


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Olivia Flies High

By Lyn Gardner

Olivia Flies High

Why this book?

Written with incredible accuracy of detail and stage terms, this story gives a real insight into stage school life.

Olivia and her younger sister, Eel, the daughters of an actress and circus performer, are now at Swan Stage School, owned by their grandmother, Alicia. Alicia eventually agrees to add circus skills to the curriculum which proves to be very useful when a child is in danger, albeit one who has caused no end of trouble for her counterparts.


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Diamond

By Jacqueline Wilson, Nick Sharratt

Diamond

Why this book?

This book is part of the Hetty Feather collection, perfect for fans of this feisty Victorian heroine.

Recounted by ‘Diamond’ (formerly Ellen-Jane), the child acrobatic wonder, this is a story about running away FROM the circus. Bought for five guineas by cruel clown Beppo, Diamond is forced to become part of the Silver Brothers’ tumbling act at Tanglefield’s Travelling Circus. Although competent, she is mistreated and unhappy, but when Hetty Feather joins the circus as ringmaster ‘Emerald’, things begin to change…


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