Book Review: The Day the Circus Came to Town

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"Gotta go, Mama," called Billy. "I finished my Saturday chores, and now I need to meet Seth and the fellas for a game of stickball." So begins this story of a young boy who is about to learn the valuable lesson of thinking for himself and following that still, small voice of God.

In The Day the Circus Came to Town, Billy is a young man that can't wait to hang out with his friends, but before he gets out the door, his mama calls and reminds him, "Don't forget about the circus!" After promising to be back in time for this family outing, he's off for a fun afternoon of stickball.

While out playing, Billy and his friends bump into Zino, a funny, joyful clown. With much enthusiasm, Zino presents the boys with tickets to the circus and invites them to come along and check it out. Billy very quickly reaches to take a ticket, but then immediately hears the other boys sneering, using words like 'sissy' and 'babies' and 'wimps'. In the blink of an eye, Billy has fallen in line with all the others and rejects Zino's invitation.

What Billy soon discovers though, is that blending in with the crowd and just following along has very real consequences. It not only costs him something but it affects his family as well. In this beautifully illustrated allegory by Melody Carlson, boys and girls alike will benefit from learning from Billy's mistakes. Giving in to peer pressure, ignoring God's voice of conscience, and the advice of parents, will eventually lead to sadness and regret. Billy finds this out the hard way.

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But, then there is grace. Gratefully, the book doesn't end there with Billy's mistake looming over him. With a repentant heart, He makes his way out to the circus, regretting his decision to refuse to go. Standing outside the tent, looking mournfully on as his family is inside having a wonderful time, Billy contemplates what a fool he has been and how it's too late to make it right.

But, it's never too late for God. It is never too late to pull away from the crowd and start thinking for yourself. More importantly, it is never too late to listen to God's voice and follow His leading.