Mr Galliano's Circus (by Enid Blyton)

Another Enid Blyton book was lying on the sofa in the study, so I picked it up in an idle moment... it only took about an hour and a half to read it, and I enjoyed it almost as much as I did as a child.

Mr Galliano's Circus has a slightly unlikely plot scenario at the beginning. Jimmy's Brown's father, a carpenter, is out of work. Jimmy - who, I suppose, is about ten - loves animals, and spends most of his after-school hours hanging out in a circus ground, helping where he can. When the odd-job man disappears, Jimmy's father is offered a week's work, and then invited with his family to join the circus full-time. It takes them a day to sort out their house and furniture, and set off.... leaving me (as an adult) wondering about house leases and neighbours and de-registering from school and utility bills... however, as a child these concerns didn't bother me.

Then most of the book is about life in the circus as the Browns settle in and make friends. I found myself sympathising rather more with Mrs Brown than I did as a child, having to struggle to cook and clean in a tiny caravan and deal with a life quite different from anything she had ever experienced before. Of course she copes magnificently, as the best of parents do in children's stories, and there's only a little hint of snobbery in her insistence on cleanliness and education!

Naturally Jimmy hits problems, has to solve dilemmas, and is always vindicated in the end. There are some positive moral lessons interwoven in the book - about being kind, and not letting obstacles get in the way, and so on.

All good stuff, and in my view one of the better-written of Enid Blyton's books. There are two sequels in the same vein. Not currently in print in either the UK or USA, but they've been re-printed frequently and are often available second-hand.

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