Ninety-year-old Jacob Jankowsky remembers the years he spent in the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth traveling circus. Jankowsky was set to graduate from Cornell veterinary school and begin a career in his hometown. Instead, his parents are killed in a car accident, leaving him with no home and no money. He joins the circus and soon uses his skill to care for the animals and people around him, including an elephant who only responds to Polish commands. In this love and coming of age story, Gruen captures the highlights and lowlights of circus life along with the characters and culture the circus gathers.
I recently visited the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida. The visit made me want to read Water for Elephants again, as it helped me understand the Menagerie and other cultural aspects of the circus. I’ve also heard that the circus museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin is a great place to visit. Sounds like a good road trip for the summer! This book is available at ICPL in Fiction, Fiction on Disc, and Large Print.