The Charlatan’s Boy

A few weeks ago the circus was in town and we really considered taking the girls. We pondered this for about 5 minutes before it dawned on us that taking our monkeys to the circus would not be the best idea. The last thing we need or want is for them to get any ideas on new behaviors to try out at home.

I really think the ringmaster should say, “Children, these animals are professionals, do NOT try this at home. The results will be disastrous and your parents will not think it funny or cute.” But they don’t.  It is one thing to see elephants stand on a box with other elephants feet on their back. It is yet another thing when you find your young children doing that very thing.

Call me weird.

Carnivals are better. I love a good carnival. Of course now that I am old, I can’t ride many of the rides. My favorite old stand-by, the merry-go-round is out. Since giving birth lo these many years ago I can’t watch or be on anything spinning without horrible things happening. And by horrible things, I really mean HORRIBLE things.

One year we went to a carnival and I stopped at a booth claiming to be able to look at you and tell you how much you weighed or your name. The poor barker was wrong on both counts.  We’ve all been taken in by some carnival man claiming to be able to do wondrous things, or one selling something that will cure all that ails you and if it doesn’t ail you yet, it will and then it will cure you.

In the book The Charlatan’s Boy, Jonathan Rogers spins a delightful tale about one such man. He is selling his lecture on Feechie folk. He claims to have a real, live he-feechie.

His he-feechie is named Grady and they travel around Corenwald taking in the kind people of the villages. Grady knows that Floyd is a fraud and liar and yet he still has questions about where he came from and how he happened to start traveling with Floyd.

When the good people of Corenwald stop believing in feechie folk, Floyd and Grady need to find a different way to make money. They start traveling again proving that Grady is the ugliest boy in the world. Until they stop in Greasy Cave and Grady loses the challenge to another boy.  Then they travel around as phrenologists. They feel people’s heads and tell them all about themselves from the bumps and crevices.  Until someone in a fit of rage smashes their wagon.

They decide then it is time to make people believe in feechie folk again. And set out to do just that.

The book is at times hysterically funny, incredibly sad and thought provoking. The plot grabs you at the first word and won’t let you go until the last word on the final page, and then you’re left wanting more.

On a scale of 1-5 I give this book 10 turning pages. Yes, it’s that good! If you’re looking for an all-around good story, you can’t go wrong with this book.

(I received a copy of this book free from Waterbrook Press for the purpose of review.)

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