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Sunday, July 1, 2018

Dr. Blackfoot's Carnival Extraordinaire by Ron Chatalbash

Dr. Blackfoot's Carnival Extraordinaire
by Ron Chatalbash
Published by D.R. Godine, Boston • 1982
36 Pages • ISBN 978-0879234263 • Hardcover

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Book description:
Tim is so discouraged and bored by life at home and school that he seizes a chance to join a circus, not knowing what really awaits him.

I think there can be something inherently creepy and unsettling about the circus; obviously not the fun-filled, cotton candy-coated circus of childhood dreams, but the darker, misfit inhabited circus of childhood nightmares. The book that always come to mind for me of those darker, mysterious circuses is obviously Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. Ron Chatalbash's Dr. Blackfoot's Carnival Extraordinaire can also fit snugly into this category.

Tim, bored and discouraged with his life, dreams of running away with the circus, where he is sure that his life will be filled with wonder and adventure. When Dr. Blackfoot's Carnival Extraordinaire mysteriously arrives one night, Tim decides that this is his chance and chases after the caravan. However, Dr. Blackfoot and company are not the shiny, beautiful circus that Tim has dreamed of, but a more sinister group, offering Tim a more frightening view into the darker side of the circus, one that Tim decides is definitely not for him.

The story here is fairly predictable, but what makes this short story really shine are Chatalbash's accompanying illustrations. Taking influence from M. C. Escher, Chatalbash creates some equally mesmerizing and disturbing art to go along with his story. His illustrations lend themselves perfectly to the story and really help flesh out the creepy undertones. A quick read, but one that would be perfect for the Halloween season.

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