This classic for young adults has been reissued in
paperback and e-book forms. The circus comes to Oregon but
when it moves on, a fifteen year old lad is left without a
home. Joe Lang had thought he had everything -- a family,
friends, and a career as a spangles, or bareback horse
rider. But the death of his father changes his world.
SAWDUST IN HIS SHOES refers to Joe's circus upbringing.
He's never known any non-circus folks but one, a lady he
disliked. How can he adapt to life in an industrial school?
Joe's toughness marks him out, and friendless, he decides
to escape. When he does, an Oregon farm family takes him
in. Joe doesn't trust them, and not all of them trust him.
He keeps his secrets. But the farm is in need of help. And
they have something better than anything -- a Morgan mare
named Satin. If Joe can just keep up his practicing, he
might make it back to circus life after all.
If I had grown up in America I am sure I'd have seen this
marvelous book in a library alongside THE BLACK STALLION
and MY FRIEND FLICKA. As it is, I never heard of SAWDUST IN
HIS SHOES, which was first published in 1950 and has
delighted generations since. This was the first novel by
Eloise Jarvis McGraw, who went on to win the Newbury Medal
for her books for young readers.
The realistic tale is peppered with circus jargon, which is
usually explained, but the translations are at the back.
Joe's adventures are heartfelt, his fears, hopes, and dreams
driving him, his determination and disappointment pouring
off the pages. Young readers will learn a lot about human
nature, kindness, trust, and the need to train hard to
accomplish goals. I can recommend SAWDUST IN HIS SHOES to a
new readership of young horse lovers, boys and girls alike.
An outsider becomes a hero and a boy becomes a man in
this classic coming-of-age tale from the heyday of the
three-ring circus, by three-time Newbery Honor Book author
Eloise Jarvis McGraw.
The circus is all young
Joe Lang knows. The third generation of a circus family,
he becomes a star bareback rider by the time he turns
fifteen. But when his father, a lion-tamer, is killed by one
of his cats, Joe becomes an orphan and is sent away to a
vocational school while the law decides whether or not Mo
Shapely, an old clown, is a fit guardian for him. Meanwhile,
the circus moves on. Joe escapes from the school and
stumbles into the farm life of the Dawson family, who take
Mistrustful at first, Joe grows to
love farming and his foster family. Faced with prejudice as
an outsider in a closely-knit rural community, he closely
guards the secret of his past—until the day his
extraordinary acrobatic talent is called for to save a life.
Joe earns respect, but there is still circus is in his
blood, sawdust in his shoes. Will he ever be happy away from
his former life with the greatest show on
The debut novel of three-time Newbery
winner Eloise Jarvis McGraw,Sawdust in His Shoes
is reminiscent of Ralph Moody’s Little Britches and Man
of the Family, Roahl Dahl’s Danny the Champion of the
World, Sid Fleischman’s The Whipping Boy, and
Walt Morey’s Run Far, Run Fast. Rediscover another
great read-aloud treasure from the golden age of the
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