Book Talk: Life was a Circus for the Partner of Barnum & Bailey – Akron Beacon Journal | Candle Made Easy

“If PT Barnum was the famous face of the circus, James Anthony Bailey was the heart.” for intermediate readers by Gloria G. Adams.

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Bailey was a Detroit orphan named Jimmy McGinnis who ran away from his sister’s harsh treatment into a life of migrant labor. At age 13, two months into the Civil War, he joined a traveling circus. The circus agent treated Jimmy so kindly that he took his name.


Although PT Barnum was the “biggest showman,” Bailey was the organizer, known for his generosity and honesty.

The book includes reproductions of full color circus posters promoting tightrope acts, geese and of course the elephant Jumbo. Sidebars offer odd circus terms: “alfalfa” is paper money; “Screamers” are marching tunes.

James A. Bailey (48 pages, hardcover) is $21.95 from Slanted Ink and is recommended for readers ages 9-12. Gloria G. Adams is also the author of Who Sees You at the Zoo? and Ah-Choo! She lives in Stow as a former children’s librarian.

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