Monday, August 16, 2010

Short Circus

Genre: Young Adult
Author: Stephen V Masse

Everyone from twelve to one hundred and twelve can remember their favourite summer as a child. Equally as memorable are the essays usually entitled “What I did over the Summer.” that were a standard task in the Autumn Term of school.

“Short Circus” is, in basic terms, that essay, told by twelve year old Jem Lockwood, but expanded to novel length.

Central to Jem’s story is Jesse Standish, a Big Brother who leads him into the kind of adventures every teenage boy dreams of having. The Big Brother Association puts adults or older teens, with younger ones as a programme to teach the children about life, to keep them out of trouble, and above all else, to act as a role model. Jesse certainly ticks the boxes, but more than that he also can communicate with children in a way that someone of authority couldn’t get away with.

That said, Jem knows nothing about Jesse before he meeting him for the first time, and he conjures up images of someone more akin to a strict headmaster than the cool, trendy character that Jesse turns out to be. Together Jem, Jesse and Jem’s friends get involved in bike jumping, visiting the circus, fighting and waterfall bathing – all in all the perfect summer for a young adult.

Throw in a mystery surrounding the local swimming pond and a boys own adventure to discover the culprit, and you have a story that wouldn’t be out of place in a teenage magazine for boys.

Running parallel to this is Jesse’s story, told from Jem’s point of view. Despite being the perfect Big Brother on the outside, Jesse has problems to deal with such as being forced to sell his house due to lack of money and his relationship with his girlfriend. It is Jesse’s story that takes over in a contrast to the fun and frivolity of the earl part of the novel. Considering Jem’s mother approached the Big Brother solution as a way of giving Jem a role model in the absence of his father, it is somewhat ironic that Jesse is struggling to deal with loss of his own father, and it seems that losing himself in the younger boy’s antics is one way of helping him get through.

Aimed at early teens, the book is a prime example of playing to its target audience. The plot is probably not complex enough to stand out to adults who are looking for anything more than a quick-flick, but Jem and Jesse are characters that will appeal to the age range of 9-14 year olds, and the tale of children learning to grow up and adults who learn life’s lessons from children has just enough mischief and fun to hold their attention to the end. The writing is not too taxing, but similarly it does not patronise with primary school wording, and is actually a book that is written with a certain type of reader in mind and sticks to it. Short Circus is not the type of novel that can easily cross over into the adult reading market due to it’s subject matter as much as anything else, but I could see it translating well to a late summer family movie someday.

Highly recommended by Anthony Lund, Allbooks Review www.allbookreviews.com

Publisher – Good Harbor Press
ISBN : 978-0-615-32057-1
Price - $20.00
Page Count – 184
March 2010

Allbooks Reviews INTERVIEW:

Please state your name and location. (city and State or Province, Country)
Stephen V. Masse
Medford, Massachusetts, USA

Tell us the title and publisher of your book:

Short Circus
Good Harbor Press

Tell us about yourself:

Stephen V. Masse was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Educated at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, he studied creative writing, and was author of a weekly newspaper column, "Out of Control." His first novel for children, Shadow Stealer, was published by Dillon Press in 1988. Short Circus is his second novel for children.

In addition to children’s books, Masse has written A Jolly Good Fellow, winner of the Silver Medal in the 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards, as well as
honorable mention in the 2008 New England Book Festival for best books
of the holiday season.

When was the book released?

March, 2010

Give us an overview of your book.

Twelve-year-old Jem Lockwood has been fatherless for four years and finally gets a Big Brother, but just as the best summer of his life is about to begin, he discovers that Jesse Standish's rented house is about to be sold. Jem does all in his daring imagination to make Jesse's house unmarketable, and the neighborhood unfit for prospective buyers. This three-ring circus romps with Jem's boyhood friends and older brother Chris, all recognizable kids who share in the rough-and-tumble delight of living in a northern Massachusetts city whose newspaper is delivered by kids on bikes, where kids play in the streets, and the local convenience store is owned by the family of Jesse’s girlfriend, Andrea.

Sadly the city’s swimming pond has been sabotaged, and the city has to close it to all recreation after two boys are injured. Jem is sure he knows who did it, and helps carry out a plan to punish the evildoer. But Alpha qualities are not always perfectly aimed, and Jem learns about the consequences of jumping into action without sufficient knowledge or understanding.

What inspired you to write this book?

Memories of childhood as well as being a Big Brother.

How is your book different from other books in this genre?

Packed with everyday people bending their lives into the fringes of sideshow lunacy, Short Circus is in a genre of its own – reality fiction from a twelve-year-old kid’s point of view.

Where can people buy your book?

Barnesandnoble.com; amazon.com; jacketflap.com; flamingnet.com


Are you working on another book? If so when do you expect it to be published?

Yes, but not ready for publication.


How did you find Allbooks Reviews and what are you hoping for in your relationship with us?

I’ve worked with Allbooks Reviews before, and would like to keep a continually growing web presence for marketing my books.


Thank you for this interview and best of luck with your book.

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