CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 30. . . .April 14, 2017
What happens when your family’s circus act is in such dire financial straits that it’s “in the crimson”? If you’re 11 year old Sebastian Konstantinov, then you try to save the day. Rachelle Delaney chronicles Sebastian’s attempts in her rollicking new circus tale, The Bonaventure Adventures. Readers will hardly stop turning the pages until they find out whether Sebastian succeeds.
The Bonaventure Adventures begins when Seb’s father, ringmaster of The Konstantinov Family Circus, sells the exotic animals Seb has grown up caring for. Bereft and acutely worried about the family business’s finances, Seb immediately begins scheming to ensure that the other circus performers—quirky misfits he’s known all his life and considers family—don’t find themselves similarly displaced. Unfortunately, he lacks any circus aptitude despite his lineage. Worse still, his father rejects Seb’s sole solution to modernize their circus.
That’s when Seb decides to attend the Bonaventure Circus School in Montreal. He hopes to learn enough about the “modern circus” to convince his father to modernize, which Seb, in turn, hopes will save the Konstantinovs. What he doesn’t anticipate is making friends, discovering his own unique gifts—which have nothing to do with circus tricks—and saving his new school along the way. The ups and downs he experiences at Bonaventure make for an enchanting read with all the satisfaction you’d expect if Harry Potter joined the Mysterious Benedict Society at the circus.
Like the Konstantinov family’s circus acts, The Bonaventure Adventures is a traditional middle grade tale of rip roaring proportions, complete with larger than life caricatured characters, a band of plucky children with all the sass required to save the day, and a plot that races along across oceans and cities. It’s also skilfully crafted with toothsome language, making the reading experience a true pleasure. While this old fashioned good time also means it’s lacking the “modern” diversity and “issues” now requisite in contemporary children’s fiction, readers ready for an escape will thank Delaney for providing one. The Bonaventure Adventures is likely to be the most fun readers will have in 2017.
Michelle Superle is an Assistant Professor at the University of the Fraser Valley where she teaches children’s literature and creative writing courses. She has served twice as a judge for the TD Award for Canadian Children’s Literature and is the author of Black Dog, Dream Dog and Contemporary, English language Indian Children’s Literature (Routledge, 2011).
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