Tim Tomkins Circus Boy
Rose Friedman with pictures by Polly Jackson/ published 1952 by Abingdon-Cokesbury Press
Anytime my son sees a vintage book about a circus, he's immediately turned off. I know many people that get freaked by clowns, and in books of old, the clowns usually play a pretty big part and are especially creepy. The only thing that redeems the circus for my boy is the fact that for every clown there are usually two or three animals. Granted, they are trapped in horribly cramped circus wagons, but still, animals none-the-less.
Soooo, there's this kid Tim, see, and he gets coaxed from his back yard by the alluring beat of the circus drum. Once he gets a load of the big top spread, he decides he might like to be a circus boy himself. He tries walking the tight rope. He clowns around. Then he hits the freak show... Too hungry to be the thin man. Too full to become the fat guy. To weak to match the weight lifter. Until, at last...
"Hi," Tim said. "Can I be the tattooed circus boy?"
The tattooed man looked at Tim. "Hmmm," he said. "There's not much of you to put pictures on."
"But I'll grow," Tim told him. "Then there'll be room for more pictures."
"All right," said the tattooed man, " hold out your arm."
"Will it wash off?" Tim asked.
"Oh, no, it never fades," said the tattooed man.
Tim put his arms behind his back. "I don't think my mother would like that," he said firmly.
Smart boy that Tim.
Tim Tomkins, Circus Boy has so many great illustrations, and this isn't particularly the best of the lot, but it's certainly the most interesting. Some of you might remember the famous Marx Brothers bit, Lydia the Tattooed Lady.... also spoofed on The Muppet Show. Nowadays, tattoos have become as common as baseball hats and you don't have to go to a sideshow circus to get an eyeball full. Your local swimming hole will do.