Wonder Show
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Wonder Show

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  833 ratings  ·  187 reviews
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step inside Mosco’s Traveling Wonder Show, a menagerie of human curiosities and misfits guaranteed to astound and amaze! But perhaps the strangest act of Mosco’s display is Portia Remini, a normal among the freaks, on the run from McGreavy’s Home for Wayward Girls, where Mister watches and waits. He said he would always find Portia, th...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 20th 2012 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2012)
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Wonder by R.J. PalacioThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine ApplegateThe Fault in Our Stars by John GreenLiar & Spy by Rebecca SteadThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
Newbery 2013
48th out of 111 books — 995 voters
Shine by Lauren MyracleWhere'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria SempleWonder Show by Hannah BarnabyChopsticks by Jessica AnthonyMiss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Breathtaking Covers
3rd out of 36 books — 21 voters

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Community Reviews

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Gabrielle Carolina
Oh man, I'm waffling pretty hard between a 2.5 and 3 star rating for this one.

It's a very hard book to rate, because though I loved the writing, the premise and many of the characters, the odd, odd choices the well-written Barnaby used to narrate her story were just terrible in my opinion.

It read like a first draft when you're still testing out how you want to write your book; do you want to write the book from a third person omnipresent and look into the twisted minds of the very measured ch...more
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

I knew pretty early on that I was really going to enjoy this fairly short novel - and I was repeatedly proven right while reading this charming debut. Though Hannah Barnaby and therefore Portia's tale is a bit short on action and long on character (like another recently released circus themed novel...), I was hooked from chapter one and Portia herself. I felt that the final conflict lacked a bit of emotional pull or immediacy but nearly everything e...more
the golden witch.
This one was really charming, guys. I think a lot of MG female readers are going to relate to Portia's character (especially if they've gone through/are going through what she's gone through), and a lot of the other characters constructed in this wonderful world of the past. Though we're not solidly set in one year, it seems like we're set somewhere between 1935-1941 for the duration of the novel. This is a marvelous world of circus/carney folk (which I LOVE), whose hayday was dying out around t...more
Wonder Show was not a book I was ever familiar with until my friend handed it to me at the library. The cover is BEAUTIFUL and sucked me in. Because it is geared for young readers, I was hesitant to read it, but I'm really glad I did. C.S. Lewis said that “A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.” I feel like many authors writing children's books (and especially young adult) forget this. Hannah Barnaby was a former book editor, so I...more
Young Portia runs away from the sinister Home For Wayward Girls and joins up with a traveling circus sideshow, her talent for storytelling earning her a place alongside the carnies, barkers, and assorted Human Oddities as she searches for her family and place in the world. A coming of age story with evil villains, sideshow "freaks," a plucky young heroine and lovely, lyrical writing...WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE?

This is billed as a middle-grade novel, but I would recommend it to certain older teens and a...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Wonder Show is a mixture between Cirque Du Freak and the musical Annie. Porti, the protagonist, who I most likely imagined as much younger than she is supposed to be (she was probably eight or nine in my mind, where I think she was supposed to be fourteen or so), has an overactive imagination, much like myself. But this book creates an excellent dark circus atmosphere with all of the freaks, who, when you really get to know them, aren't freaks at all. Although this is one of those "growing up" s...more
Wonder Show/ Hannah Barnaby/ 2012

Genre: YA Fiction, Coming of Age

Format: Book

Summary: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step inside Mosco’s Traveling Wonder Show, a menagerie of human curiosities and misfits guaranteed to astound and amaze! But perhaps the strangest act of Mosco’s display is Portia Remini, a normal among the freaks, on the run from McGreavy’s Home for Wayward Girls, where Mister watches and waits. He said he would always find Portia, that she could never leave. Free at last,...more
Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (via NetGalley) for the e-galley of Wonder Show.

When Portia Remini is taken to McGreavey's Home for Wayward Girls and put under the "care" of Mister, the only thing she can think about is escaping and finding her father, who left her when she was young. When a traveling circus-slash-carnival comes through town, Portia decides that the best place to hide from Mister and start her search is as a member of the carnival, where she is one of the so-called "norma...more
Really liked this novel, which for some reason reminded me of Ray Bradbury - maybe because of the quirky middle-America sort of setting, or the time period - Depression-era, or the quirky characters, or maybe all of that, as well as a nicely Gothic feel - Actually, that may be it: it was a very realistic novel with a Gothic-y, almost supernatural feeling to it. The episodic telling, as well as moving between viewpoint characters within the same story (but in different chapters), also reminded me...more
I had a hard time deciding what to rate this book. When I first started reading "Wonder Show," it really turned me off. I wasn't thrilled by the voice of the main character and I was starting to worry that the circus-themed cover was a ruse. (That has happened before. Baiting me with a beautiful circus cover to later find out, no circus.)

Thankfully, this book did deliver, but it takes awhile. If you are first starting it and are getting discouraged, hang in there. The book does get better.

Elizabeth K.
This was surprisingly solid YA. I don't know why I was so surprised, I guess because the circus/sideshow thing seems overdone. Teen runs away from a home for wayward girls, and talks her way into a job cooking for a sideshow attached to a traveling circus during the Great Depression.

My biggest quibble is that I would have liked to have seen this a little more substantial ... the parts at the home for wayward girls felt too melodramatic, like something out of Lemony Snickett. The parts with the s...more
The Airship Librarian
I don't like shelf-reading a lot of the time, but I do like shelf-reading when it's in an exciting area.

Do I need to explain that statement? Probably.

I work at a library (of course, where else would I work?) and every shift I have to do a section of 'shelf-reading.' This means that I sit down in front of a shelf, and I go through every book/cd/dvd/kit that is on that shelf, and make sure that it's supposed to be there and the dewey decimal numbers or the alphabetical names are all lined up and...more
I was a little disappointed with this book as it didn't have quite as much about life with the circus as I thought it might. It didn't even really capture the feeling of the time period and at times I had to remind myself when this was taking place. I'm fascinated by the time period and the circus, but the description of the book made it sound like the reader would experience much more of the life than we really do.
Evie Jayne
I really enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Not sure why my expectations weren't high, but nonetheless, this was a quick, fun, different read. The narrative, while I can understand some not caring for it, was one of my favorite parts of this. And the story captured me from beginning to end. Methinks Barnaby is a great storyteller and I eagerly await something else by her.
Npm Library
Portia's mother has died and her father disappeared. Her aunt doesn't like children, and so she is left at a home for girls. Unfortunately, the owners use the girls to run their business and care little for their needs. When one of Portia's friends is forced to marry the owner she decides to make her escape and find her father. Her only clue to her father's location is that he always wanted to join the circus, so Portia finds the Wonder Show, a traveling act that joins the circuses. The Wonder S...more
The fifth star is just because it is my kind of book. Slight flaws don't mar the effect for the reader who needs the slightly strange to make reality click.
Pretty good book. I found myself still thinking about it long after I was finished. I was also sad when it ended because I wanted to read more about Portia.
Joyce Chua

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The plot, character motivations, the plethora of characters and their unique voices, the setting, the underlying tension throughout the entire story - they all propelled the story and set it clipping at an increasingly urgent pace.

There were some beautiful quotes in there too:

"The ones who left (tapped at the edge of her memory), and the ones who were left behind, everyone in motion like startled birds, trying to find a place to land."


"Sometimes promises are even harder to keep t...more
Portia was happy living with her dad Max, Aunt Sophia and the gypsy caravan of relatives. She loved going to the circus even though Max and Aunt Sophia wouldn't let her see the sideshow. Then the dust came, people moved away, and Max lost his money and drifted away from Portia before finally leaving. He promised to return for her one day though and left her in the care of Aunt Sophia. Aunt Sophia found it too difficult to care for the rebellious Portia so she placed Portia at the McGreavy Home f...more
Reviewed at: http://www.teachmentortexts.com/2013/...

Portia is looking for her family, but ends up finding a place in the least likely places- a "freak show" touring around the midwest during Depression-era America. The author seamlessly intertwines Portia's story with the story of the traveling show even mixing up points of views and narrators during the story. Although it sounds like it should definitely not work, it does. And it does beautifully. This book is mostly about heart, family, and h...more
Story Telling is in Portia's blood and she has a natural talent for it. As a young girl Portia was surrounded by family who tell wonderful tall tales. Portia loved sharing her own stories with Max her dad. When the extended family leaves, Portia no longer has the heart to tell the same stories. Max leaves as well when Portia is nine, leaving her in the care of her aunt Sophia, but not before they go to the circus together. Portia will forever associate the circus with Max.

Thinking it for the be...more
Originally posted on ,a href="http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.com/2... Broke and the Bookish.

This was one of the contenders for the Morris Award this year, given to the best debut young adult title (first book to be published by the author in any genre and for any audience). While I can see its merits, I can also understand why it didn't take the main prize.

Wonder Show follows the story of Portia Remini, who has been abandoned by her family and left at McGreavy's Home for Wayward Girls, under th...more
Portia's life has been anything but ordinary. First, Portia is growing up during the Dust Bowl and times are tough. Her mother vanished when she was young. Her father stuck around and encouraged her penchant for telling stories, but as times grew worse, he left as well and Portia is stuck living with her spinster aunt. Try as she might, Portia's aunt is not prepared to deal with a willful, imaginative girl. Portia is then sent off to live in a home for "wayward" girls. It's a brutal place with l...more
Dark Faerie Tales
Review Courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: A surprising story of a girl trying to find herself while on the run by joining a circus in 1940′s America.

Opening Sentence: Wayward can mean a lot of things. It can mean lost, misled, unfortunate, left behind. That is how the girls at The Home thought of themselves, despite their best efforts to live some other way.

The Review:

Wonder Show is hard to classify as a book with its multiple perspectives and its unusual subject matter, but I thoro...more
Possible spoilers follow...

Set in a slower era- don't see or hear of any phones ... The airstream is modern.

Portia lives in the bosom of her Gypsy family. Mom and Dad, aunties, uncles and cousins across the yard with slightly dour Aunt Sophia nearby. Portia revels in the stories that swirl about her and each evening she entertains her father with her reinventions of the tales.

Suddenly the idyll breaks apart- Mom splits, then the cousins all leave, then- this is a low blow- her dad drives off af...more
Barnaby has made some interesting choices in her debut: she uses multiple perspectives WHILE switching between first and third person throughout the book. For the most part, I found it worked. It made the story interesting and gave the reader insight into the various personalities that appear in the book and the actions they make. The real issue I had with the changing perspectives is sometimes it changed perspectives too soon – I didn’t get enough emotional connection in some of the important s...more
Anna (Yoda Is My Spirit Animal)
Portia Remini has always lived a life of uncertainty, with only one thing she knows to be true - even though her Father left her with Aunt Sophia, he will return for her someday. So when Sophia sends her to live at McGreavy's Home for Wayward Girls because she can't deal with her wild spirit, Portia is angry and confused. Add into the mix a sinister benefactor known only by the name "Mister" who might possibly be a Bluebeard-esque murderer and you have plenty of reasons for Portia to run away. J...more
Rebecca Ann
This was a strange book, but I really enjoyed it. I love all things circus, although the circus was only a small part of this overall story. The settings of the circus and Mister's house were easy to picture and atmospheric. The plot was foreboding, with just a touch of Gothic suspense. The characters were colorful and familiar, although only Portia showed any real development. I do think that Gideon needed more fleshing out, especially since he is supposed to be the (very innocent) romantic int...more
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