Such a Cool Book: Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo? by Carlyn Beccia

BinBallyhooWho Put the B in the Ballyhoo: The Most Amazing, Bizarre, and Celebrated Circus Performers by Carlyn Beccia.  Ages 4 – 8 (2.5 year old son loved it).  Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.  April 2007.  32 pages.  ISBN-10: 0618717188. Non-fiction. $16.00

Quick Summary:  Lots of fascinating facts and information about the history of the circus — in alphabetical order.  Beautiful and rich illustrations of bizarre and unusual performers and performances.  Unforgettable and mesmerizing!

Our Experience Reading this Book:  We highly, highly recommend this book.  My son and I have read this book many times.  It’s so well done.

The illustrations, layout, and information work together to create this experience where I felt like I had witnessed a performance.  It’s creative, it’s beautiful, and it’s factual without feeling didactic.  The vocabulary is excellent and it gives a great historical perspective of the circus.

Some of the images are a little creepy — but sometimes so was the circus.  The Fiji Mermaid and the Wild Men of Borneo are two pages that we kinda gloss over because they’re pretty gruesome.  When my son’s older it won’t be a problem, like when he’s in the actual age range that this book is intended. (Go figure!)

This book is so cool and I’m really impressed with it.  It has certainly upped the, “What’s that?” game with my son and keeps me on my toes as I try to explain what a tattoo is and why a flea is being shot out of a cannon.

Carlyn Beccia has another picture book called:  I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat that won a 2011 Cybils.  I’m looking forward to checking it out.

Where Obtained/FTC Disclosure:  Library.  I liked it so much, I bought it.

FTC Disclosures:  Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” If you click on the link and purchase the book, I will receive an affiliate commission.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Author/Illustrator Website:

Some of my Favorite Reviews of this Book:


kidlitbloghopI’m participating in the Kid Lit Blog Hop over at MotherDaughterBookReviews.  Go check out all the bloggers talking about great children’s books!


  1. That is some really high praise for this book! Strangely, the only time we ever went to the circus was when my daughter was about 2 years old. We had to leave about 10 minutes later because she was utterly terrified. Haven’t been back since. I love the circus though – she’d probably love it now. Thanks for sharing this recommendation in the Kid Lit Blog Hop! 🙂


    • My pleasure! Thanks for hosting the Kid Lit Blog Hop! As always, I’m a huge fan of it.

      It’s really a beautiful and fascinating book.

      The circus is a very interesting and unusual place and admittedly, I’ve been scared and creeped out by some things I’ve seen. 🙂


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