The Clown Said No

NorthSouth. Oct. 2022. 32p. tr. from German by Anthea Bell & David Henry Wilson . Tr $17.95. ISBN 9780735844766.
K-Gr 3–First appearing in 1961 with illustrations by Gian Casty, this story has been somewhat revised over 60 years and now appears with Kuhlmann’s meticulous, joyful scenes of a mutinous bunch of circus performers on the search to become their most essential artistic selves. It’s a familiar quest, within this story and beyond it, of course. Here, Petronius, billed as the “funniest clown in the world,” simply refuses to perform. Theodore, his donkey, also rebels. The pony, too, who is actually a full-grown horse, chafes at dancing on cue; the giraffe cannot help it that she has a long neck and hates doing tricks. Otto the dog dislikes the bow he wears, and Gustav the lion longs for home. They create their own circus, “For Children and Poets.” The language of this translation is lyrically conversational, ideal for reading aloud, and the circus-in-rebellion idea will lead to noisy story hours.
VERDICT It’s a quest worth taking, this move toward authenticity; children will understand why the clown and his merry followers say no, and love how small changes can lead to big satisfaction.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing