Life was a circus for Barnum & Bailey’s partner
“If PT Barnum was the famous face of the circus, James Anthony Bailey was its heart.” The lesser-known partner of The Greatest Show on Earth gets his due in “James A. Bailey: The Genius Behind the Barnum & Bailey Circus,” an illustrated biography for average readers by Gloria G. Adams.
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Bailey was a Detroit orphan named Jimmy McGinnis who ran away from his sister’s harsh treatment for a life of itinerant work. At 13, two months after the start of the civil war, he joined a traveling circus. The circus agent treated Jimmy so kindly that he took his name.
Although PT Barnum was the “greatest showman”, Bailey was the organization man, known for his generosity and honesty.
The book features reproductions of full-color circus posters promoting aerobatic acts, geese and, of course, Jumbo the Elephant. The boxes provide curious circus terms: “Alfalfa” is paper money; the “screamers” are marching tunes.
“James A. Bailey” (48 pages, hardcover) costs $21.95 from Tilted ink and is recommended for readers ages 9-12. Gloria G. Adams is also the author of “Who Sees You at the Zoo?” and “Ah-Choo!” A former children’s librarian, she lives in Stow.
As efforts to ban the books increase, librarians have come under fire from new policies regarding books dealing with racism and sexuality, but there are other forms of diversity addressed in the 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 examines representations of poverty in fiction and non-fiction.
Former University of Akron teacher Cynthia Rylant used her childhood in a house with no plumbing in a small West Virginia town without a library as material for her children’s books, including ‘Missing May’ , winner of the Newbery Medal in 1993. Dorr asks librarians about their admiration for various authors who were raised in homes with drug or abusive parents, or parents in prison; perpetrators who were bullied because of their ethnicity or because they received free meals at school.
Native American author Joseph Bruchac, in an interview, discusses how his impoverished childhood and supportive teachers contributed to the development of the characters in his books. Dominican-American writer Elizabeth Acevedo, whose “The Poet X” won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2018, says “my characters aren’t rich, but…we have to write characters who recognize that ‘they come from economically depressed countries’. areas and that it is inherently unfair.
The second half of the book features stories of inspiring people who were raised in varying degrees of poverty, including Sonia Sotomayor and John Lewis. Dorr says, “All children should be given a wide variety of books to engage with, see themselves and others, and 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 $49.99 from the American Library Association‘s ALA Editions, suggesting it is a library resource. Christina H. Dorr has taught library science at universities such as Kent State.
Bookstore of the learned owl (204 N. Main St., Hudson): Gabe Goldman signs his picture book “The Loving Wind,” 1-3 p.m. Sunday; Brandy Gleason signs “100 Things to Do in Amish County Before You Die,” Saturday from 1-3 p.m.
Wayne County Public Library (220 W. Liberty St., Wooster): Lindsay Bonilla reads from her storybook “I Love You With All My Heart,” 10-11 a.m. 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,” from 6-7 p.m. Wednesday. Each registered child will receive art materials and a copy of the book. Register at cuyahogafallslibrary.org.
Massillon Municipal Library: Mary Pope Osborne, author of the Merlin Missions and Magic Tree House series, joins the Summer Reading Program for a virtual interactive appearance, 4-5 p.m. Thursday.
Hudson Library and Historical Society: Jennifer Chiaverini discusses “Switchboard Soldiers,” her novel about Signal Corps telephone operators during World War I, during a Zoom event at 7 p.m. 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,” 7-9 p.m. Thursday.
Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library (Coventry Branch, 1925 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights): Poets Elsa Johnson, Terry Murcko and RC Wilson read their work, Thursday at 7 p.m.
Visible voice books (2258 Professor Ave., Cleveland): Poets LaTonya Fenderson-Warren, Truth Taylor and Beverly Wells read their work, Friday at 8 p.m.; Caryn Rose talks about “Why Patti Smith Matters,” Saturday at 7 p.m.
Akron-Summit County Public Library (Maple Valley Branch, 1187 Copley Road): Clarence Bechter talks about the bike 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 p.m. Saturday. Register at akronlibrary.org.
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