Today, I’m honoured to be taking part in the blog tour for Rachelle Delaney’s adorable circus-themed middle grade novel, The Bonaventure Adventures!
Thanks so much to Vikki VanSickle for reaching out and sending me a finished copy!
I love a good middle-grade novel, and circuses are fascinating, so really, why wouldn’t I want to read a book about a boy attending a circus school? In Montreal no less!
Despite not having any discernible circus talent, Sebastian is part of the world-famous Konstantinov travelling circus alongside his father and the friends he’s grown up with. But with the circus struggling to make ends meet in Europe, Sebastian is desperate to find a way to boost sales, especially when his father releases the animals used in some of the acts.
That’s when he finds out about the Bonaventure Circus School in far-off Montreal. The directrice, Angelique Saint-Germain, immediately—and surprisingly—accepts Seb’s request to join her school without forcing him to undergo a traditional audition.
Once at Bonaventure, Seb realizes that it’s only a matter of time before the teachers discover his lack of talent. Luckily, he makes friends with two other “bêtes noires” who help him scheme and plan how to save his father’s circus without revealing his secret. Unfortunately for them, Bonaventure is falling apart and when the directrice starts hinting that Seb’s father can pay for the repairs, he and his friends have to come up with another plan to save their school.
As a protagonist, I liked Seb. He was plucky and good-natured, and resourceful, and determined to stay at Bonaventure because he wanted to help his family. I also liked that he was a storyteller, that he constantly lost himself in books, and excelled in his English class (heck yeah, book nerds!). He's the type of character you care about, one that you want to succeed because the poor kid deserves to have something good happen to him.
I also enjoyed Seb’s friendships. Frankie was so cool with her parkour-ing skills and sketchy past life, and Banjo was precious—I genuinely worried about his inability to calibrate his inner compass. I wish Maxime had made an appearance again because his bromance with Seb was super cute. I did like that there wasn't a forced romance between Seb and Frankie—because it's middle grade, their relationship was purely platonic and refreshing.
Delaney did a great job of balancing descriptions and action sequences. I could picture most of the characters (Seb’s father in particular) and the school really well, but she avoided bogging down the story with an adjective overload.
The only thing I really had an issue with was pacing. Admittedly, I complained that four other things I recently read/watched were moving too slow, so maybe I was just having an off week, but it seemed to take a while for the ball to really get moving. That being said, each part had its fair share of up-and-down action, and there were a lot of twists and turns to keep me (or, you know, an actual middle grade reader) interested.
As a bonus, here's my list of Top Ten middle-grade authors (in no particular order)—who are some of yours?
- Lemony Snicket
- Jenny Nimmo
- Gail Carson Levine
- Roald Dahl
- Eoin Colfer
- Judy Blume
- Susin Nielson
- Kate DiCamillo
- Louis Sachar
- Garth Nix
And I can't make any list of authors without mentioning my personal king and queen, Neil Gaiman and J.K. Rowling (respectively).