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Literature / The Circus Series

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The Circus Series is a trilogy by Enid Blyton. When a circus comes to town, a young boy called Jimmy quickly makes friends with the people, and once his father gets a job with them, Jimmy's gift with animals is enough to make the whole family part of the circus. The books consist of:

  • Mr Galliano's Circus
  • Hurrah For The Circus
  • Circus Days Again

Warning: despite the similar titles, Come to the Circus! is a different story altogether, published several years after the trilogy ended.

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This author's books provide examples of:

  • And the Adventure Continues: While all three books tie the various storylines up neatly, all of them - and the trilogy overall - end in this fasion.
  • Bad Boss: In the third book, Mr Galliano's wife becomes dangerously ill, and he takes a leave of absence during her convalescence. He picks Britomart the conjurer to fill in as manager, on the basis that Britomart has run a circus before. Galliano really should have looked into WHY Britomart's own circus broke up. It takes less than six months for Britomart to drive the circus straight into the ground - he's made 90% of the circus folk so unhappy that they're making plans to leave for other productions. Galliano has no idea things are going badly until Lotta finds her way across the country to find him and tell him.
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  • The Beast Master: Jimmy's skills with handling animals make him this. However, he states that he would never try to make an animal do tricks if they weren't suited to it.
  • Book Dumb: while Blyton doesn't come out and say it, Lotta is functionally illiterate for most of the trilogy. Jimmy's mother insists on home-schooling Lotta along with Jimmy, so she improves considerably, but Lotta still has struggles with reading and writing in book 3.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Lotta, some of the time.
    • In the last book, Jeanne and especially Lisa take this Up to Eleven.
  • Canon Welding: In the second St. Clare's book, several of the students go to see Galliano's circus. Jimmy even interacts with the girls, telling them about the circus acts.
  • Circus Brat: Lotta.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Jimmy loves every animal he meets, and they all recognize it and trust him instantly. Even tigers. Even when their own handlers won't approach them! To the point that Jimmy's talent with animals borders on Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane.
    • Mr Galliano is very insistent that all animals are treated well, and sends two trapeze artists away for mistreating their dog.
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    • Lotta remarks that most circus folk love animals.
  • Nice Hat: as a ringmaster, Mr Galliano naturally wears a magnificent top hat. The better the circus is doing, the more he wears his hat tilted to the side; during one really good run, his hat is tilted so much that it falls right off, and Sammy the Chimpanzee runs off with it! On the few occasions Mr Galliano wears his hat straight on his head, everyone in the circus gets worried.
  • Only One Name: most of the cast. In the first book, we find out that Jimmy's surname is Brown, but his mother is just 'Jimmy's mother' or 'Mrs Brown', and his father promptly gets nicknamed 'Brownie'. In the third book, Mr Galliano addresses his wife as Tessa, but everyone else is either first name basis or surname only.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Jimmy and Lotta come across as a junior version. He even lets her share his turn in the ring; granted, he hasn't been a member of the circus for long, but it's considered an incredibly generous act in-universe. Jimmy and his parents volunteer to let Lotta live with them when her parents have to take a leave of absence from the circus - which is no small thing when you live in a caravan!
    • in the third book, Jimmy and his parents decide to leave due to Britomart's bad leadership, but Britomart has already made Lotta's parents sign a year-long contract (which includes Lotta). It's the prospect of being parted from Jimmy for good that prompts Lotta to make a cross-country ride to find Mr Galliano and beg him to come back to the circus. However, if Britomart had stayed, he stated that he wouldn't have Lotta in the circus, even though he still expected to keep her parents.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mr Galliano, most of the time. Borders on Benevolent Boss.
    • Averted with Britomart - he insists that all animals be locked in their cages (which causes some of them to sulk, especially Sammy the chimpanzee), forbids Jimmy to go into the cages of any of the animals except dogs and horses as a punishment for letting out the performing seal, and lets Jeanne and Lisa go into the ring instead of Lotta for stealing his wand. He also makes snap judgments when arbitrating between circus folk without considering all sides, and shows a marked tendency to play favourites. (i.e. it never occurs to him that maybe the performing seal got out by accident, or that Jeanne and Lisa might be lying so they can take Lotta's place in the spotlight.) This almost breaks up the whole circus, with most of them planning to go somewhere else the next time they move.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: None of the circus folk care about how they look most of the time, but they make a point of looking good for the ring.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: When Lucky the dog goes missing and is presumably sold, Lotta disguises herself as a boy and goes to find her.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Lotta's main interest is riding horses in the ring and in general and she doesn't mind having short hair and only ever dresses nicely for performing, but it's revealed in the last book that she likes dolls.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Fric for Jimmy in Hurrah for the Circus. Right from the start, he tries to separate Jimmy and Lotta. Granted, after his subsequent fight with Lotta, Jimmy deliberately works to get on Fric's good side, (bribing him with ice creams) so Fric will help him get into the tiger cage, so there's shades of it going both ways. But Fric is the one whose general behaviour throughout the book fits this trope.
    • Lisa and Jeanne to Lotta in Circus Days Again. She was already very wild, but people remark on how the encouragement of the two girls makes her worse.
  • Verbal Tic: Mr Galliano often adds "yes" or "no" at the end of his sentences.
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