The Enid Blyton Society
All About the Circus (Mr. Galliano's Circus)
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Book Details...

First edition: 1939
Publisher: W. & A.K. Johnston
Illustrator: Douglas Cuthill
Category: Old Thatch Series
Genre: Circus
Type: Short Story Series Books

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Reprint Covers
Review by Terry Gustafson
Further Illustrations

I couldn't recall ever reading this booklet before but it needs to be reviewed because, as was pointed out by the Site-Administrator and the producer of that excellent booklet Enid Blyton A Comprehensive Bibliography, it exists. Not only that, but the story can claim a little status because it's about Galliano's Circus — no less. I've always considered the stable of Galliano books as consisting of 3x plus a section of a compilation (Enid Blyton's Omnibus). Looking at All About the Circus and comparing it to the other Galliano tales I can't quite include it as a 'Galliano' book 'per se' but that's a strictly personal stance.

Here are a few points:-

This 'Old Thatch' publication appears to have come out shortly after the first 'Galliano' story which became popular because I think that most children would consider circuses as interesting and exciting. Mr. Galliano's Circus 'is' exciting and the three books must have been welcomed because they were reprinted many times despite the shortage of paper during the second Great War. The 'Old Thatch' books were published from the early 1930s through to the Fifties and they contained little stories dealing with various themes and many could have been useful in a school classroom. They were of small format (approx. 4 x 6 inches), had about sixty pages, and there's no reason why one of that series shouldn't have as its subject a tale that could capitalize on any fame the 'Galliano' books might have garnered.

Enid Blyton, as many people know, used many of her characters in other books — Noddy turning up in unrelated tales, Josie, Click and Bun appearing in Bumpy and his Bus, Chinky the little pixie visiting the Faraway Tree and even in this book there is a re-appearance, in reference only, of a crusty character named 'Farmer Straw' who in 1933 would call you a 'Ninny' if you believed in fairies (the circus sets up camp in his field). Even some of the Galliano performers appeared as guests in other stories and the interrelating is very welcome because it makes the characters more universal and as mentioned in the review for Circus Days Again, Galliano's Show-Extraordinaire made its mark in a St. Clare's book. If you take the interlude that Pat, Isabel, Janet and Kathleen had with the circus in The Twins at St. Clare's and wrote an expanded version, there would be little difference between that and All about the Circus of which a synopsis could well make it one of the shortest book reviews on the site. There is little or no plot but that's only looking at it in the light of the Landmark Galliano books. As a separate story for younger people it's well worth reading as any Blyton tale would be — it's just the 'Galliano' connection that calls desperately for it to live up to the Standard!

Four St. Clare's girls went to visit the circus camp prior to when it opened in their town. They met up with Jimmy Brown and Sammy the chimpanzee and they also watched Lotta practising her act on Black Beauty her horse. The girls then attended the circus although they contravened rules to do so, and they witnessed Lotta again performing her act and Jimmy with his Wonder Dog — Lucky. There were the clowns and the acrobats (the circus must have hired some more) and Mr. Galliano himself complete with whip and big moustaches. They enjoyed Sammy the chimp performing his act and just managed to see a bit of the bears' performance with their trainer, Mr. Volla before they had to sneak back to school.

Roughly, that's All about the Circus.
Joan and Bobby watch Galliano's Famous Circus procession enter Farmer Straw's field to set up camp. They are privileged to meet up with none other than Jimmy and Lotta the Wonder-Boy and Wonder-Girl and they introduce themselves. During their chat they are told that if they come to the circus two hours before the performance begins they can be shown round the camp. So, at 5 o'clock, there they are ready and waiting. Jimmy and Lotta take them in hand and introduce them to Jumbo the elephant and they meet his trainer — Mr. Tonks. A tiny bit of history is revealed here which relates the book a little more strongly to the Landmark ones — Bobby and Joan are told how an odd-job man, Harry, who used to be there before Jimmy's own father became the handyman, was unkind to the elephant and suffered retribution due to Jumbo's long memory. Then the visitors are taken to meet Lal and Laddo, Lotta's parents, to view their wonderful horses. Lotta performs a few tricks on her own steed and Joan and Bobby are even allowed to have a go at horse-riding. Next it's over to Lilliput with his monkeys and they also meet Sticky Stanley the clown. You're bound to have a little excitement when mingling with that lot and sure enough Jemima, Lilliput's favourite, supplies a little of this by stealing a handkerchief and a penny from the unsuspecting Joan and Bobby then racing away. The little monkey eventually manages to buy an ice-cream from a handy vendor with the penny and then sits on a fence eating it — still with Joan's hanky around her neck where she has tied it like a scarf.

Next it's time to see the performing dogs — one of which is Lucky who belongs to Jimmy. Lucky is in a cage with the other dogs but maybe this is due to the fact that the circus had been on the move and, no doubt, the little dog enjoys the company of her mates even if it means being cooped up for a while. Mr. Galliano the ringmaster himself approaches and impresses them immensely by cracking his great whip. He even lets young Bobby have a try at it but he's useless — you need experience to crack a whip it seems. Bobby and Joan are then taken to see Sammy with his owner — Mr. Wally, and they also encounter the bears which belong to Mr. Volla who treats them to a little preview of what they will see later on at the performance proper. Last but not least is Oona the acrobat who thrills them all with his skill and then the hour of 7pm arrives and it's time to enter the Big-Top.

Anyone can visualize what happens then because Enid Blyton has written many accounts of children enjoying a circus and it's basically a rerun of what Bobby and Joan had witnessed in the circus-camp earlier except that the performers are dressed up for the occasion and there's the band and the pomp and the ceremony and the organization all presided over by the magnificent ringmaster himself — Mr. Galliano.
Most of the 'Old Thatch' booklets would satisfy the 5 — 8+ age range and Enid Blyton's descriptions of a visit to a circus are always interesting even if the acts are very similar.

The pictures are not by E. H. Davie who illustrated the other books so the reader can make his or her own judgment about them.

'He Didn't Believe in Fairies' was reprinted in Enid Blyton's Sunny Story Book.

All about the Circus might be included as one of the 'Galliano' books because it definitely is about that renowned travelling show but so was the rudimentary piece in The Twins at St. Clare's and with a little imagination the story in question could be looked upon, in one sense, as a considerably expanded and substitute version of the St. Clare's students' visit to Galliano's Circus which might well have qualified as sufficient for an 'Old Thatch' booklet. Because of its triviality I couldn't include it when casually mentioning the Landmark 'Galliano' books but that's the result of only one opinion and I might have to run a mile if I suggested that to a seven-year-old! These illustrations are hidden by default to ensure faster browsing. Loading the illustrations is recommended for high-speed internet users only.