The Nock Family Circus
Celestino Piatti and Ursla Huber
translated from German by Barbara Kowel Gollob
Always intrigued by the circus book, this one is particularly interesting, not only because of the fabulous illustrations by Swiss book designer and graphic artist Piatti, but because it's about a real family and a real circus that was formed in Switzerland in the 18th century. Big Apple Circus star Bello Nock is one descendant from a clan whose roots are still deep in the art form. Now fully out of Switzerland and a few generations in the circus culture of Sarasota, Florida, the Nock family and name is still prevalent throughout. (Though I am no circus historian, merely a children's book lover with the gift of the Google.) I've always found circus families intriguing. A lifestyle and a passion that you're born into. Always moving. Always performing. Though this is a children's book --and by that I mean short and simple-- it does do a good job of painting a picture of the gypsy lives of one circus family, from the makeshift school house to the mobile kitchen.
In the tent where the animals are kept, it is cool and dim and very quiet. The horses are all out in the meadow grazing. That is why school is being held under their green tent. Manuela and Monika are bending over their books doing their spelling. Eric and Sonja are doing their arithmetic. Every now and then the black pony trots by to peek in at them. When the teacher is not looking, Sonja tried to balance her pencil on the tip of her nose.
A wonderful fly-eye view on as tradition that is as mysterious as it is beguiling, and one that is rapidly becoming extinct. In these pages, you can almost smell the sawdust and it's easy to imagine what life would have been like under the big top.
Do yourself a favor and see more of Piatti's lovely work here, here and here. Guaranteed you'll fall in love. I, for one, am setting out right now in search of The Happy Owls book. How have I missed this one!?! Wow!
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