Levinson, Cynthia. Watch Out for Flying Kids. Peachtree, 2015. $22.95. ISBN 9781561458219. 216 pgs. Ages 10-14. P7Q7.
This book talks about two groups, Circus Harmony in St. Louis, and the Galilee Circus in Israel, each made up of people from diverse backgrounds. In Circus Harmony, disadvantaged African American kids learn tumbling skills, juggling, trapeze, high wire, and other circus skills alongside suburban kids with totally different lives. In the Galilee Circus, Jewish and Arab Israeli youth come together in a very unusual opportunity to learn about each other and participate in circus activities. At three different times, the two groups meet up (in the US and in Israel) to share experiences, learn about each other, and expand their horizons. I was especially interested in how the Israeli kids got along, given the obstacles. At one point, the author notes that Israeli Arabs and Jews aren’t aware that they can have fun together, or that they have anything in common worth communicating about. While I was encouraged by the attitude of the children and the fact that a book like this is looking at Middle Eastern issues at all, I felt that the author’s treatment of the Israeli/Palestinian problem was simplistic and at times inaccurate. Levinson did a great job of bringing out how hard the kids worked at perfecting their athletic abilities and developing a professional attitude. She used the kids’ words to describe their experiences and feelings about them in a very honest and revealing way.
January 2016 review by Carol Schramm.