Monday, December 21, 2009

Nonfiction Shortlist: The Great and Only Barnum

The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P.T. Barnum
Candace Fleming
2009; Schwartz & Wade Books (Random House); ISBN 978-0-375-84197-2 (hardcover)

Summary: P.T. Barnum didn't say "There's a sucker born every minute," but there's no denying that never was born anyone like him. As a boy, he would rather think of ways to make money than work for the money. Inheriting a love of practical jokes from his grandfather and Yankee values from his parents, Barnum set out to entertain the world and give them a good value for their money. Through his museums, circus and writings, Barnum became known as the greatest showman on Earth. But there was more to Barnum, as you will see . . .

Balancing fact with entertainment, Candace Fleming creates a readable, rollicking biography of the larger-than-life P.T. Barnum. From his beginnings in a small Connecticut town to his travels through America and Europe, the details of his life will delight readers. For teens used to tabloid journalism and Photoshop fakes, stories about original humbugs like the Feejee Mermaid will open their eyes to simple, entertaining hoaxes. Perhaps in this age where it's easier than ever to be fooled--and to grow angry over being tricked--the story of Barnum will remind us of the art and fun of having the wool drawn over our eyes. The life of Barnum is told with flair and skill by Fleming, enriched with original pen-and-ink illustrations as well as photos and engravings. By reading The Great and Only Barnum, readers can see just how much of today's celebrity culture began with Barnum.

Discover just what Barnum's American Museum was like, thanks to The Lost Museum.

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