Monday, November 13, 2017


Julius. Syd Hoff. (An I Can Read Book) 1959. 64 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Davy went to Africa. His father was going to catch an animal for the circus.

Premise/plot: Mr. Smith is looking to bring back an animal for the circus. His son, Davy, is there to help. In fact, it is Davy who finds Julius, a gorilla, who is super-excited about belonging to the circus. But is circus life really for Julius?

My thoughts: This book is dated. I'd even say incredibly super-dated--for better or worse. It is exactly what you'd expect a book written in the 1950s to be like in terms of depicting Africans, wild animals, and those who hunt them. In this case, the hunt is about finding a new circus animal. (It could just as easily been about finding a new zoo animal.)

The animals depicted look cartoon-ish whether than realistic. This isn't a bad thing, in my opinion, since Hoff has the rejected animals muttering, "Some animals have all the luck." Realism isn't to be found in Julius.

What you get is an over-the-top silly story. A gorilla who is civilized, who probably has better table manners than most children. This gorilla isn't taken from Africa against his will. He volunteers and is excited. "The men carried Julius through the woods. Sometimes Julius gave the men a rest." On one page, he's in the cage. In the next, he's carrying the men in a cage.

Still, silly or not, realistic or not, Davy spends half the book carrying a gun. This book also features a clown or two.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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