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Sandy's Circus: A Story About Alexander Calder
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Sandy's Circus: A Story About Alexander Calder

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  265 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
As a boy, Alexander (Sandy) Calder was always fiddling with odds and ends, making objects for friends. When he got older and became an artist, his fiddling led him to create wire sculptures. One day, Sandy made a lion. Next came a lion cage. Before he knew it, he had an entire circus and was traveling between Paris and New York performing a brand-new kind of art for amazed ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 4th 2008 by Viking Books for Young Readers
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Roxanne Hsu Feldman
Jan 16, 2009 Roxanne Hsu Feldman rated it really liked it
The best thing about this book is the inventive ways the illustrators and art designers put together those double spreads. It echoes the concept of duality of the night/day:moon/sun inspiration which is mentioned in the text. It also reflects the duality of New York/Paris and Art/Play. I love the pages also where the artist's drawing pads cover and complete the objects. The facing pages of his travel in two cities (with 2 suitcases and then 5) and the crowds in Paris and New York work really ...more
Dec 14, 2008 Lynn rated it it was amazing
Wonderful picture book biography of "Sandy" Calder's early years as an artist and the creation of his amazing moving circus. I loved the perspectives used in the illustrations and the intricate drawings of Calder's work. I would add this book to a middle school collection as well as elementary. Fascinating.
Sep 19, 2008 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books
Alexander Calder is known for his incredible mobiles like the one on the right. But this book focuses on one of his first creations, from sketches and wire designs to his amazing circus built from wire. The circus worked through springs and levers, sending the wire characters through their acts.

Through play and wonder, this book captures Calder at his most elementary and most childlike. The story is captivating and vividly written, letting children understand that though Calder did not consider
I love books that talk about a famous person's humble beginnings in a way that kids can understand. Most know Alexander Calder's art to be important in the 20th Century museum context, but how many know that he invented the mobile, and "stabiles" (enormous metal sculptures)? Likewise, that he rose to fame by creating and exhibiting a traveling miniature, metal 3-D circus of working, moving "children's theatre", that was appreciated by both children and adults alike? Great colorful illustrations ...more
Annette Keith
Nov 19, 2016 Annette Keith rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-lit
Excellent and a addition to my own book CALDER CREATURES: great and small. by Jean Lipman. Calder in a suitcase is so ingenious that an amateur puppet creator would make one of her own.
Jul 18, 2012 Kellee rated it really liked it
Alexander Calder is one of the most famous artists of the 20th century. He is the son of 2 artists yet for the first 20 years or so of his life, he never thought was an artist or had any intention of making art. His love was engineering- building and fixing things; however, it wasn't until he went into the real world and couldn't find a job he loved did he begin to realize that what he loved was more than just engineering. This book is the story of what happens after Calder is inspired to become ...more
Dec 01, 2014 Julie rated it it was amazing
"Sandy's Circus,: by Tanya Lee Stone is a story about Alexander Calder and his moveable circus. He ruled the artistic world of the twentieth century with metal sculptures and mobiles. ever since Alexander was a child he would build sculptures out of scrap. The sight of the moon and the sun interested him into going to art school. He worked for a newspaper where he drew circus's. Calder always had wire and a pair of pliers so one day he made a wire lion and before he knew it he out together a ...more
Mar 11, 2016 Relyn rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teachers, parents, artists, kids
Recommended to Relyn by: spotted on my library website
Anyone who loves Alexander Calder is going to want to read this. If you know any kids (or a young-at-heat adults) who love art, building, the circus, or a plain old good story - this is one for them.

Lesson Connections
One of my favorite units of student in Reader's Workshop is our biography unit. I introduce the idea of reading biographies using storybook biographies. Luckily, there are many exciting ones being published now. I read several storybook biographies to the students and they have a c
Anna Richland
Sep 20, 2013 Anna Richland rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teaching-art, kids, art
This was one of those books that my 4 year old wanted every night for weeks. I was willing to read this longer than most others that hit that special category, because I too love Alexander Calder, and this was a great story about his miniature circus world that he constructed out of wire and what we now call recycled materials. I thought I knew something about him, from seeing his mobiles and stabiles many places, but this book focuses on his early life and his circus creations, which was ...more
Caitlin Harmon
Feb 09, 2014 Caitlin Harmon rated it it was amazing
Alexander Calder, or Sandy to those who knew him, was a joyous playful man who did not call himself an artist. But what an artist he was! His gigantic, colorful metal sculptures and his amazing mobiles can be seen in public places all over the world. One of his first creations was a wonderful, whimsical circus that he made out of found materials such as wire, cork, and paper. He then performed his miniature circus on the street of Paris and New York to the delight of children and adults alike.

Sep 14, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it
A clear and well-illustrated biography about Alexander Calder and his art. The book describes his early art projects and inspiration, though it does not provide the typical background that you might expect in a biography. This reads more like a story and less like a non-fiction text. The author includes a note and list of sources used.

Recommended as a compliment to the art curriculum; this text could be used with students in grades 1 - 5, though with different levels of support. While a good int
A biographical picture book about the artist Alexander Calder, the story mainly focuses on his creation of a miniature wire circus that was popular in the 1920's. Calder was an influential American artist in the early 20th century and is credited with inventing the mobile. The author says she was inspired to write the book when she saw the artwork on Calder's estate.

While the illustrations show Calder creating the tiny circus, their child-like quality makes the circus look somewhat amateur. Als
Mar 02, 2014 Shelli rated it really liked it
I only recently became acquainted with the work of Alexander Calder, an artist who didn’t call the things he made art, and found this to be another enjoyable and informative book about this non-traditional creator. Sandy, as he preferred to be called, fashioned an entire miniature traveling circus of wire, wood and other materials that wowed audiences on both sides of the globe and redefined the way people view art.

A fun read aloud to share with your kiddos or a classroom full of them, especiall
Feb 11, 2016 Samantha rated it it was amazing
Sandy's Circus was an interesting and informative read. I like how it was about is life and how he started his art work. The illustrations were very well done and had a lot of details. This book was the first like this that I read where it was a picture storybook but a bibliography at the same time. Which can be a great resource for teaching children about bibliographies. I really enjoyed this book and it also had some interesting fun facts. Well worth the read.
Apr 26, 2015 Kim rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing story about the man who created the first mobile, and how he became famous just making things out of wire. A true artist, and the illustrations bring so much fun to the story. They are whimsical just as Alexander's art is. I really enjoyed this story and the way that it was written. I would love to have this book in my classroom library, and use it as as mentor text for detail when describing someone's life.
Sep 20, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
This book was a great introduction to the art of Alexander Calder. The illustrations were very well done, especially the pictures of Sandy's hands and of his drawing at the circus. My 4th and 5th graders loved the book and were excited by the circus creations.
Also, I tied the lesson together by showing my students an online video of Calder playing with his circus- including some of the figures shown in the book!
Andrea Davis
Sep 22, 2014 Andrea Davis rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
A lot of great information is given about Alexander Calder without being too overwhelming or complex for young children to understand. It explains his upbringing, his passions, his work, and as well as how everything came into motion- literally! The illustrations are big and detailed to almost tell the story in themselves. With a few more advanced word choices, this book would be great for around the 3rd grade.
Feb 02, 2015 Jeimy rated it really liked it
I will confess that, before a school activity in December, I had no idea who Calder was. On that fateful day, I fell in love with this playful artist and his whimsical circus. Today I learned of his wire portraits and that he invented the mobile. I want to spread the word about this man and this book might be just the conduit to do it!
Tracy Holland
Aug 18, 2014 Tracy Holland rated it really liked it
A truly gifted artist, Sandy Calder entertained and brought joy to many with his wire circus. This biography follows Sandy through his early years as he developed his craft and creates his circus. Children will enjoy learning about his creativity and determination to bring joy to those who watched his art work.
jenna nims
Apr 25, 2009 jenna nims rated it it was amazing
super cool book, I love Alexander Calder, especially his circus that I was lucky enough to see in Canada one year. I was very glad to be able to teach/show Caroline his awesome work. The illustrations were great, I did think the story tried to be a bit too "cool" and ended up a little wordy but I still loved the book!
Aug 04, 2009 Amanda rated it liked it
Shelves: kid-s-books
This one was interesting to me because my mom studied Alexander Calder in college while I was in middle school and I had never heard of him before that. His circus was totally new to me and a fun way to tell a historical story to kids. It made me wish there was a little more about his mobiles however, although maybe another book would be best for that.
Jan 28, 2016 Angela rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. I already had some prior knowledge of Alexander Calder but the book did a good job of telling about his life and illustrating it in a way that would hold a young child's attention. This would be a great book to read when you are studying about artists in the elementary classroom because it is short and full of colorful illustrations.
Debbie Tanner
Oct 16, 2012 Debbie Tanner rated it really liked it
This book is about the artist, Alexander Calder. I loved the bright pictures and the way that the author describes Calder's journey from childhood, to college and into adulthood. My only complaint was that there didn't seem to be much of Calder's actual work represented in the book, but I don't know that much about Calder so I'm off to do some research.
Sep 17, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: tl-320
This is a great story to use to help students learn about providing background information in a narrative, non-fiction story. It also has a lot of similes which could teach students about being descriptive. For example: "full moon shone like a silver coin."
This book also teacher about the sculptures by Alexander Calder.
Dec 02, 2014 Earl rated it liked it
For some reason or other, I thought I had read another nonfiction picture book about Alexander Calder. I'm not an art expert and even I knew about his wonderful mobiles. So this was a pleasant surprise to read another part of his creative contribution to the world. Fans of miniatures and the circus should read this!
Apr 25, 2009 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book on the life of Alexander Calder and for me a little known episode in his life, where he created this entire circus out of wire and other objects--which later led to him creating his wire sculptures, which became the first mobiles. I absolutely loved the illustrations in this book!
Anne Broyles
Mar 25, 2014 Anne Broyles rated it really liked it
Alexander Calder's art installations and mobiles are famous now, and mobiles are commonplace, but Stone tells the story of a curious child who loved creating things. Calder didn't want to be an artist, trained as an engineer, and used wire and pliers to create "a magical, moveable circus."

Includes an author's note and sources used.
Sep 18, 2014 Theresa rated it really liked it
I love the new way authors are telling true stories to children but making it entertaining instead of stale. This book brings the story of Alexander Calder (whom I have never heard of) to life in a colorful and charming way.
Anna Lewis
Nov 15, 2008 Anna Lewis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art-book-pb
Perfect book for teaching art appreciation to children ages Kindergarten through Fifth Grade. Will definitely recommend it to all my volunteers to include in their art appreciation presentations.
Learned something new (and VERY interesting) about Calder!
Chris Young
Jun 17, 2014 Chris Young rated it really liked it
Charming text and illustrations depict the early life and work of Alexander Calder, whose whimsical moving wire circus gained attention in Paris and New York and led to his well known mobiles. This book is a great addition to any unit on art or sculpture.
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Tanya Lee Stone is an award-winning author of books for kids and teens. Her work, which includes YA fiction (A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl), picture books (Elizabeth Leads the Way and Sandy's Circus), and nonfiction (Almost Astronauts and The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie) has won national awards such as the ALA's Sibert Medal, SCBWI's Golden Kite Award, YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction, Jane ...more
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