“If PT Barnum was the famous face of the circus, James Anthony Bailey was the heart.” The lesser-known partner in the Greatest Show on Earth is given his due in “James A. Bailey: The Genius Behind the Barnum & Bailey Circus,” an illustrated biography for middle readers by Gloria G. Adams.
Bailey was a Detroit orphan named Jimmy McGinnis who ran away from his sister’s harsh treatment to a life of itinerant labor. When he was 13, two months after the beginning of the Civil War, he signed on with a traveling circus. The circus agent treated Jimmy so kindly that he took his name.
Though PT Barnum was the “greatest showman,” Bailey was the organization man, known for his generosity and honesty.
The book features reproductions of full-colored circus posters promoting high-wire acts, performing geese and, of course, Jumbo the elephant. Sidebars provide curious circus terms: “Alfalfa” is paper money; “screamers” are marching tunes.
“James A. Bailey” (48 pages, hardcover) costs $21.95 from Slanted Ink and is recommended for readers 9-12. Gloria G. Adams also is the author of “Who Sees You at the Zoo?” and “Ah-Choo!” A former children’s librarian, she lives in Stow.
‘Profiles in Resilience’
As efforts to ban books increase, librarians are under fire about new policies regarding books dealing with racism and sexuality, but there are other forms of diversity addressed in books. One is economic diversity.
“Profiles in Resilience: Books for Children and Teens That Center the Lived Experience of Generational Poverty” by Christina H. Dorr looks at depictions of poverty in fiction and nonfiction.
Former University of Akron instructor Cynthia Rylant used her childhood in a house with no plumbing, in a tiny West Virginia town with no library, as material for her children’s books, including the 1993 Newbery Medal-winning “Missing May.” Dorr interviews librarians about their admiration for diverse authors who were raised in households with drug-addicted or abusive parents, or parents in prison; authors who were bullied because of their ethnicity or because they received free lunches at school.
Native American author Joseph Bruchac, in an interview, explains how his impoverished childhood and supportive teachers contributed to the development of characters in his books. Dominican-American writer Elizabeth Acevedo, whose “The Poet X” won the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, says that “my characters aren’t affluent, but …we need to write characters who acknowledge that they are coming from economically depressed areas and that it is inherently unjust.”
The second half of the book offers stories of inspirational people who were raised in varying degrees of poverty, including Sonia Sotomayor and John Lewis. Dorr says: “All children need to be given a wide variety of books with which to engage, to see themselves and others, and to see what the possibilities are.”
The profiles are followed by inviting lists of books by and about the writers.
“Profiles in Resilience” (224 pages, softcover) costs a self-contradictory $49.99 from the American Library Association‘s ALA Editions, suggesting that it is meant as a library resource. Christina H. Dorr taught library science at universities including Kent State.
Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson): Gabe Goldman signs his picture book “The Loving Wind,” 1 to 3 pm Sunday; Brandy Gleason signs “100 Things to Do in Amish County Before You Die,” 1 to 3 pm Saturday.
Wayne County Public Library (220 W. Liberty St., Wooster): Lindsay Bonilla reads from her storybook “I Love You with All of My Hearts,” 10 to 11 am Tuesday. Register at wcpl.info.
Cuyahoga Falls Public Library (2015 Third St.): Children’s author Lindsay Ward appears on Zoom to lead an art project based on her book “Pink Is Not a Color,” 6 to 7 pm Wednesday. Each child registered will receive art supplies and a copy of the book. Register at cuyahogafallslibrary.org.
Massillon Public Library: Mary Pope Osborne, author of the Merlin Missions and Magic Tree House series, joins the Summer Reading Program for a virtual interactive appearance, 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday.
Hudson Library & Historical Society: Jennifer Chiaverini discusses “Switchboard Soldiers,” her novel about Signal Corps telephone operators during World War I, in a Zoom event at 7 pm Thursday. Register at hudsonlibrary.org.
Wadsworth Public Library (132 Broad St.): Laura DeMarco gives a presentation based on her pictorial “Lost Civil War: The Disappearing Legacy of America’s Greatest Conflict,” 7 to 9 pm Thursday.
Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library (Coventry branch, 1925 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights): Poets Elsa Johnson, Terry Murcko and RC Wilson read from their work, 7 p.m. Thursday.
Visible Voice Books (2258 Professor Ave., Cleveland): Poets LaTonya Fenderson-Warren, Truth Taylor and Beverly Wells read from their work, 8 pm Friday; Caryn Rose talks about “Why Patti Smith Matters,” 7 pm Saturday.
Akron-Summit County Public Library (Maple Valley branch, 1187 Copley Road): Clarence Bechter talks about the bicycle trip he recorded in “The Time of My Life with Bubba’s Pampered Pedalers 2019: 3000 Miles San Diego, California, to St. Augustine, Florida,” 2 to 3 pm Saturday. Register at akronlibrary.org.
Email information about books of local interest, and event notices at least two weeks in advance to BeaconBookTalk@gmail.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Barbara McIntyre tweets at @BarbaraMcI.