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Wonder Show

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  1,135 ratings  ·  228 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
51st out of 116 books — 1,132 voters
Shine by Lauren MyracleWonder Show by Hannah BarnabyWhere'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria SempleMiss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom RiggsChopsticks by Jessica Anthony
Breathtaking Covers
2nd out of 39 books — 22 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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
I really enjoyed this book. Portia is a complex young lady with complex relationships. She's calculating, spirited, thoughtful, funny. And SHE directs the book. Things don't simply happen to her....she takes control of it in a very believable, enticing way. I really felt for her and for the love interest as well as Portia's friend Caroline. Great story, real page turner with beautiful writing.
This is another 2015 RI Teen Book Award nominee that I decided to pick up. While I am definitely not a fan of the cover, which makes the book seem perfect for middle schoolers while it is very much not that. Set just before the war and Portia Remini's truly unfortunate life is going to take a unique twist when she finds a true home and family where she would least expect it.

After her mother passes on and her father goes on the road and disappears, Portia finds herself being taken care of by an a
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
Jan Blazanin
Portia Remini grows up next door to boisterous relatives who entertain her with their stories. Her mother is long gone, but she can count on her dad, Max, to take care of her. Then one day he leaves her with her Aunt Sophia, who finds Portia too much to handle and drops her off at a home for wayward girls run by Mister, a cold-hearted man who uses the girls to sew uniforms and work in his apple orchard. When things at the home go from bad to worse, Portia rides away on a stolen bicycle and joins ...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.
Ugh! I wanted to like this book so badly! Don't get me wrong, it had it's good parts, but then I had to stop 61% in. Why? Simply because I did want to read about (view spoiler) I understand it's purpose, but WHY, WHY ruin a book with so much darn potential?! And I don't even know the conclusion with her missing father!!! *deletes book* It's just so sad. :(
Evie Janelle
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.
I picked this book up on a whim. It started with the cover that caught my attention. Definitely one of the best and most creatively pleasing covers that I have come by! The cover caught my attention but the story captured my heart! Cheesy, I know.
I will say the best parts in 'Wonder Show', for me, were the beginning (Part One) and the ending (Part Three). This book is split into three different sections based off of where the main character, Portia, is. Part One- The Home For Wayward Girls, Pa
Interesting story about a girl who is abandoned by her family to be taken care of by a man at a home for wayward girls. She runs away to join the circus on her search for her family. Gives a look into how the "freaks" of the circus might have lived during the traveling shows of the 1930s.
Hutch Librarian
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.
Kerry-anne Henry
Jun 08, 2014 Kerry-anne Henry rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Young Adults, Teens
Recommended to Kerry-anne by: Amazon
This book is a book you just have to shut everyone off for. If I had to choose to pick a book to read over and over again my whole life it would probably have to be this one. Portia the main character gets sent to a way-ward school by her aunt. Portia ends up joining a wonder show to escape mister and his way-ward house for girls. I pre-order this book right away and when I got it I dove right in and did not regret. I'm not gonna lie I did get this book because of cover art (which really applies ...more
I was in the mood for a fantasical circus story when I picked up Wonder Show. I wasn't disappointed.

Wonder Show has the kind of cover that definitely attracted me to it. Add to it the fun synopsis, and it is definitely a book that screams to be read when you're looking for some quirky storytelling. I was feeling nostalgic over reading The Night's not terribly similar but I would recommend it for those looking for something at least a little related.

In short, it is a very artfully wri
At first I thought this book had an imagination--peculiar characters with funny quirks about them that I loved and that made me laugh, and events that surprised me in a slightly negative yet didn't annoy/anger me at all. But this all happened while she lived in McGreavy's Home for Wayward Girls; the beginning of the book made it seem like she would actually try to find her family, but she didn't, she was too distracted by the circus life so I figured those people would become dear to her. Howeve ...more
Jun 04, 2014 Kimi rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
This book was everything I expected it to be, but at the same time, not what I expected it to be. It was your standard girl runs away to the circus thing and there were freaks in the side show, etc. etc. etc. But it sort of fell short of my expectations aside from that.

It just seemed... sort of boring to me. Like, I didn't hate it, but I didn't feel strongly about it. Mister was a cartoon villain and there wasn't really a lot of time spent with the sideshow stuff. It was just the story of a girl
This book is fiction in a way that allllllmost makes it seem like it's fantasy. Perhaps because it's fantastical.

It's during the depression and Portia ends up at a school for wayward girls, with the oddly sinister Mister McGreavy, known as "Mister".

Desperately seeking to leave, and to find out what happened to her Father, she runs away and joins a small circus - no elephants, just some performers and "freaks" which she ends up working with.

I thought the book was in it's element when it was in Po
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