Skip to main content
Cover for To the Big Top

To the Big Top

Jill Esbaum, David Gordon (Illustrator)


List Price: 16.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


When the circus comes to Willow Grove, Benny and Sam are in for more excitement than they can shake a stick at: elephants and acrobats, candied apples and a calliope, even a snake enchantress. They can’t think of anything better than helping the circus men set up for the grand event – until the Big Top boss gives them two tickets for the show! But then Sam’s ticket disappears, and it’s up to Benny to save the best day ever.

A tribute to the great occasions and small gestures that children will remember for a lifetime, this boisterous tale about fun and friendship is enlivened by David Gordon’s jubilant illustrations.

To the Big Top is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Praise For To the Big Top

"Joyful illustrations...will give children, especially those who have never experienced a circus parade of big-top performance, a good idea of what it was like back then." —Booklist "As Esbaum moves the duo from backstage to the choice seats in the Big Top, she handily captures the flavor of pre-electricity days, especially in her use of vintage vernacular (Benny remarks at one auspicious moment, "I was so bumfuzzled, I couldn't unwind my tongue") . Gordon's . . . big scenes--the unloading of the circus train, the big parade down Main Street--bustle with a sense of sweep and head pleasure."Starred, Publishers Weekly  "Gordon...lights up the event, bringing prime elements of the story forward, dressed in electric color, and painting the background in a haze; the illustrations' almost-can-taste-it, dreamlike quality takes readers to Back Then, when midway and sideshow were the real deal." —Kirkus Reviews
“Gordon’s vibrant illustrations depict the historical element while also conveying the dynamic relationship between the two friends. An inviting slice of Americana.” —School Library Journal

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 9780374399344, 32pp.

Publication Date: May 27, 2008

About the Author

JILL ESBAUM is the author of "Ste-e-e-e-eamboat a-Comin'!," an IRA Children's Book Award Notable, and "Stink Soup." She lives on a farm near Dixon, Iowa. DAVID GORDON has written and illustrated many books for children. He lives in New York City.