'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 18 February 2018

Review: Marvellous Miss May: Queen of the Circus

There’s something really special about reading a book about someone who actually lived.

Something that pulls you into the story and makes you think about how the world has changed and what it would have been like to live in the past.

And that’s exactly what Marvellous Miss May: Queen of the Circus does. 

It invites you into history and let’s you experience the life of a young circus performer through a spellbinding and fascinating tale.

Based on the real life story of May Zinga, Marvellous Miss May: Queen of the Circus is a fictionalised retelling of how seven-year-old May was sold to the Wirth Brothers Circus.

Her hair was cut off, she was teased for being small, but this determined girl from Bundaberg, Australia, proved she had what it took and went on to become a super famous bareback rider, performing amazing tricks and flips on the back of a horse.

Marvellous Miss May: Queen of the Circus is a captivating and addictive read, and it’s delivered in the most brilliant and kid-friendly way. 

The chapters are bite-sized, with headings that tell you the location and date they are set in. And there are amazing pictures on every page, including photos, illustrations, circus posters and newspaper articles from the National Library of Australia collection.

Alongside the story, you’ll also find interesting facts peppered throughout the book. So not only do you get to learn about May and her life as a circus performer, but you’ll also learn about the history of circuses around the world, the history of circuses in Australia, how modern circuses differ from circuses of the past and what it was like to have a job in the circus (for people and animals). 

There’s a glossary at the back so you can learn about the circus terms you might not be familiar with, and there’s a fantastic section called ‘Author Notes and Acknowledgments’, where Owen Reeder discusses the process she undertook to write the book, which included extensive research of articles, reports, memoirs, interviews and other books.

Schools really need to check out this book. It would be a fabulous story to explore and study in a classroom. And you might also like to know that Marvellous Miss May: Queen of the Circus is one of four books in the award-winning Heritage Heroes series. So after you’ve devoured this one, don’t forget to check out Amazing Grace, Lost! A True Tale from the Bush and Lennie the Legend.

Title: Marvellous Miss May: Queen of the Circus
Author: Stephanie Owen Reeder
Publisher: NLA Publishing, $24.99
Publication Date: 1 February 2018
Format: Hard cover with dust jacket
ISBN: 9780642279156
For ages: 7+
Type: Picture Book, History