by Victor G. Ambrus

Age: 3+

Interests: music, circus, animals

Oxford University Press: 1975

24 pp.

Also by this author: The Three Poor Tailors, Horses in Battle, A Country Wedding, Hot Water for Boris, The Little Cockerel, The Sultan’s Bath

One day eight-year-old Mishka’s grandfather gives the boy a fiddle and teaches him to play “The Blue Danube”. Mishka is not satisfied with his audience of goats, ducks and chickens, and decides to leave home in search of fame. He tries to join a ragtag circus troupe, but the haughty ringmaster laughs that they don’t need a fiddler, what they really need is someone to muck out the elephants. Mishka takes the job and is soon given various other duties. Soon he is being tossed about by trapeze artists, bounced by ponies, used for knife-throwing target practice, and doused with water by the clowns. Finally one day he gets his big chance and steals the show standing on his head on top of the largest elephant and playing “The Blue Danube”. Mishka has found fame and at the end the ringmaster is mucking out the elephants himself.

A colourful tale for quite young listeners – there are no twists or complications in this plot, it’s a very straightforward journey from zero to hero. And throughout his adventures little Mishka is quite a good sport, putting up with all kinds of unpleasant duties.

Bold, brightly coloured illustrations accompany this cheerful tale of plucky Mishka’s search for fame. The drawings vividly portray the shabbily unkempt circus people, but the animals are especially marvellous – pot-bellied ponies, flea-bitten dogs, scruffy parrots, and one squinty old gent of a bear in the bath.

This book should entertain your youngster, though I have to mention that there is a particularly evil-looking laughing clown on two separate pages (see also on cover). Just in case you or your child have any serious clown issues…

Mishka is another of those hard-to-find books, as it is out of print.

(used copies available via amazon.com)

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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