[Review and Giveaway!] Feeding the Flying Fanellis and Other Poems from a Circus Chef by Kate Hosford and Cosei Kawa

Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and Girls! Welcome to the Big Top!

In the center ring, behold the rotund Circus Chef as he pulls off the most amazing feat of all: feeding all the circus performers!


I’ve never turned a cartwheel, and I’m dizzy in high places.
I couldn’t ever be a clown — I don’t make funny faces.

But put me in the kitchen, and I think you’ll be delighted.
Join us for a circus meal. Everyone’s invited.

I handle special orders and unusual suggestions.
And if you have an allergy, just come to me with questions.

Put me in the kitchen, where the coffee’s percolating.
I’ll mash and melt with pleasure. I can’t keep the circus waiting!

My days are long and sweaty, and the chaos never ends.
But still, I find I’m most content when cooking for my friends.


Don’t you love him already? For each picky palate, for each quirky personality, this chef aims to please.

For the Ringmaster who’s always on the go, a picnic of salami and mini baguette stashed in his top hat. For the homesick Ukrainian Strongman, babushka’s vushka recipe. And if you must feed a Juggler who likes to juggle (rather than eat) anything that’s round? A square meal, of course!

Feeding the Flying Fanellis: And Other Poems from a Circus Chef (Carolrhoda, 2015) is Kate Hosford’s debut poetry collection, and I’m pleased to report it’s got my name written all over it. Whimsically illustrated by Cosei Kawa, the 18 fun, spritely and decidedly delectable poems provide a delightful glimpse of this chef’s unique perspective.

A tireless worker in his towering toque and cookie-studded jacket, he must provide the fuel to keep this bouncing, flying, tumbling, jumping, dancing, balancing, somersaulting entourage in tippy-top form. He must be attentive, keep his sense of humor, make allowances, and like the best of chefs, be fully attuned to their every need.

How does he satisfy the very polite and genteel Clown who throws food at him? Or the high-strung Tightrope Walker who requires a carefully balanced whole foods diet? What to do about a Human Cannonball who eats so many carbs he outgrows his cannon? What about the chili sauce obsessed Fire Eater, or the Flying Fanellis, who must have their daily quota of 🍋 lemon cakes 🍋 to soar on their trapezes and avoid a sugar crash?

And guess what? There’s a SOUP-loving dog! Don’t you think Kate wrote “Little Blue” just for me?


Little Blue jumps through his hoop
If I agree to cook him soup.

Chicken noodle, clam chowder,
Awful soup that’s made from powder.

Cajun gumbo, callaloo.
It’s really all the same to Blue.

But if he doesn’t get his soup,
His perky ears will start to droop.

He’ll trot across the circus ring,
Refusing to do anything.

His frantic trainer begs and pleads,
But Blue is clear about his needs.

He puts his nose up in the air.
He plants his feet. He doesn’t care.

Even if the crowd is bored.
Or if his trainer feels ignored.

So in the end it’s up to me
To cook his soup efficiently.

We serve the soup — he laps it up,
And soon he is a joyful pup.

Now he’ll do a trick or two.
We’ve been well trained by Little Blue.


Oh, I do love this circus chef! A lesser kitchen whiz would have crumbled under this kind of pressure. With a whisk and a stir, and a bake and a boil, the sauciest of smiles and the industry of an army, he proves his mettle and seems to be having a ball.

Most of the poems are written in rhyming couplets, a good form for delivering lively, quick-fire narratives that are fun to read aloud. Kate’s adept wordplay mirrors the agility and showmanship of the performers.

Kawa’s inventive, dreamy illustrations have a naive sophistication about them, and are chock full of interesting details to keep young eyes busy and fascinated. He has a penchant for the minute and surreal, from walking vegetables and mini tightrope walkers to tiny jesters, balloon artists and bunny-toting rickshaws.

And the food! Quite a gourmand’s fantasy come true with flying cakes, puddings, and turnips, platters and dishes of familiar favorites like burgers, pizza and fries, and the more exotic ostrich, warthog, and pygmy toad. Who would eat these things? Our chef even knows how to feed a gourmet lion:


The lion is a true gourmet
Who thinks about his food all day.

He smiles, flashing his incisors,
Just before the appetizers.

First comes antelope pâté,
Followed by a consommé.

HIs entrée is a wild boar.
He wolfs it down and roars for more.

He eats grilled warthog with his claws.
He tears through python with his jaws.

Now he’s hunting for dessert.
He’s started nibbling on my shirt!

I give him ostrich à la mode,
Topped with candied pygmy toad.

He licks his lips and starts to roar.
I hide behind the kitchen door.

“Would you like your cheese plate now?”
But all the lion does is growl.

The food is gone, but he’s still here.
He’s ravenous — that much is clear.

This beast will make me cook all night
To satisfy his appetite!


Satisfy a ravenous lion even if you have to hide behind a door? No order is too tall to fill! 🙂

Feeding the Flying Fanellis oozes kid appeal with its unusual, charming premise, and is sure to please the palates of a wide variety of wild and wooly readers and eaters. When asked in this wonderful Publishers Weekly interview whether she ever wanted to join the circus, Kate said she would have liked to join when she was a girl, probably as an acrobat, given her interest in gymnastics and dance.

Have you ever wanted to join the circus, and if so, as what? After reading this book, I can see that the job of circus chef would be very challenging and a lot of hard work. I think I’d be better at training the dancing bears. Grab a ringside seat so you don’t miss this highly entertaining feast of “circus feats and culinary treats”! 🙂

Did you think I could read this book and not crave lemon cake? Here’s some just for you (oh, the sacrifices I make on your behalf!):

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FEEDING THE FLYING FANELLIS: And Other Poems from a Circus Chef
written by Kate Hosford
illustrated by Cosei Kawa
published by Carolrhoda Books, October 2015
Poetry Picture Book for ages 6-9, 32 pp.
Cool themes: circus, chefs, food, poetry



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For a chance to win a brand new copy of this book, please leave a comment at this post telling us what you’d want to be if you joined the circus, no later than midnight (EST) Wednesday, October 21, 2015. You may also enter by sending an email with “CIRCUS” in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Winner will be announced next Friday. Good Luck!

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There’s still time to enter the EAT YOUR U.S. HISTORY HOMEWORK GIVEAWAYtoo! Click here for all the details and to read a fun interview with Ann McCallum and Leeza Hernandez!

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Please send your snail mail address so we can get your book out to you right away.

Big thanks to everyone for entering. Loved hearing about your big love for sweet potato casserole and cranberry sauce!

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poetry fridayThe lovely and talented Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting the Roundup at The Poem Farm. Do a few somersaults, juggle three lemons, and trapeze over there to check out the full menu of poetic goodies on today’s menu.



wkendcookingiconThis post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your toques, bibs, and aprons and come join the deliciousness!



*Interior spreads posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2015 Kate Hosford, illustrations © 2015 Cosei Kawa, published by Carolrhoda Books/Lerner, 2015. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan and Cornelius Fanelli Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.


58 thoughts on “[Review and Giveaway!] Feeding the Flying Fanellis and Other Poems from a Circus Chef by Kate Hosford and Cosei Kawa

  1. The book looks great- so unique and fun!
    If I were in the circus, I’d be a dog trainer. And I’d surely reward the pups with plenty of Circus Chef’s soups!


  2. Irresistibly clever concept and execution! The illustrations suit it well.
    If I joined the circus, I think I would be behind the scenes with the animals. Or maybe a fortune teller?


  3. Me, me! *waves hand*

    I’d like to be a unicycle rider. I did try, in college – I had borrowed someone’s unicycle, but I never did get much of the hang of it, alas. But it would be loads of fun to be able to do it properly – and perhaps to juggle as I rode! 😀

    Those circus chef poems are SO cute!


  4. What a fun and yummy collection – in word and picture. Mr. Cornelius looks very happy with his new treasure, and perhaps intrigued the possibility that you will teach him to dance? Hmm…if I were in the circus, I might be selling popcorn! Thank you for this tasty feature. I want to read the whole thing aloud! Happy Poetry Friday! xo


    1. It truly is a wonderful collection — such a unique and entertaining premise. If I saw you at the circus, I’d buy your popcorn and ask for a little poem to go with it. 🙂


  5. Hi Jama, I would want to be Mommy clown if I were in the circus, complete with exploding diaper bag, soccer ball balloons and 10 dogs on a leash. And I so want a copy of that book. What a delight this post was to read, and it whet my appetite for the whole book. I think Mr. Cornelius should watch out, if he eats too much of that scrumptious-looking lemon cake, his trapeze days will be over! I’m so happy to see that Fanelli is his middle name. XOXO


    1. Cornelius does have a way of changing his names at whim. I’ll pass on your advice of eating too much lemon cake, though his high metabolism is pretty efficient at keeping his weight in check.

      A mommy clown is such a unique idea — don’t think I’ve heard of that before. Exploding diaper bag! Soccer ball balloons! Sounds perfect.


  6. This certainly is a book just for you, Jama. It looks terrific, & I laughed especially over the juggler getting that ‘square meal’. It seems that there are many jokes to laugh about, & the illustrations, wow! Another book to be sure is on my list! As for the circus, I always thought it would be lovely to be ‘gliding through the air’ a “daring young wo-man on a flying trapeze”. Not happening, but fun to dream! Thanks, Jama, Kate & Cosei!


    1. You never know, Linda — if you eat enough lemon cake, you might just be able to fly on that trapeze :). Mr. Cornelius is hoping for just that. This book is a total delight from cover to cover.


  7. What a cute idea for a poetry collection. I love the unexpected rhymes and there are many. I can’t wait to read this one. Thanks for a chance to win. If I joined the circus, I’d probably be hired to follow the elephants and scoop poop because I have no circus abilities, but I would like to be a clown just so I could find out how the clown car thing works.


  8. This is a super clever book and one I can’t wait to get my hands on. The gourmet lion poem was great fun. I especially love the second couplet-
    He smiles, flashing his incisors,
    Just before the appetizers.

    And as long as I’m pretending . . . I choose the Flying Canonball! The carbs sound wonderful!


    1. LOL — you’re quite daring to choose the cannonball, Penny. But if you eat too many sweets and grow too large, you can always do just what Hugo did — become a pastry chef. He claims the cannon was making him deaf, so just as well. 🙂
      I do think this brand of humor is right up your alley.


  9. This book had me wanting to read it at the title. The illustrations also pulled me in. I am sure that I would have wanted to wear some sort of sparkling costume. I do remember being mesmerized with the trapeze acts. (Although, my adult self can’t even fathom such a thought.


    1. Yes, those pretty sparkling costumes! I remember loving the movie “Trapeze” when I was little. Charlton Heston and Tony Curtis were in it, I think.


  10. Oh my gracious, this looks fantastic! I was already a Kate Hosford fan and Kawa’s illustrations look amazing. I adore circus book. I think I would have to go with clown. It would be the most realistic choice for me anyway! 😉


    1. The illustrations must be studied close up and in person to be fully appreciated. They’re amazing and perfectly capture all the fun and spirit of the circus. Danzel the Clown has a nice ring to it. 🙂


  11. What a delightful treat of a book, Jama – loved the verse, and the illustrations are just sublime…as sublime as that lemon cake! Were I to join the circus, I would want to be a lion tamer, after dealing with 50 sixth graders day after day, lion taming will be a cinch! 🙂


  12. What a fun, whimsical book! Loved getting a peek at some pages! And adorable photos from you per usual!


  13. This was a wonderful snapshot of a really fun book. Loved the poetry and the pictures! So much fun! And lots of places to use this in writing with kids.

    If I could run with circus folk
    I’d be the one to take a poke
    At hypnotizing some big bloke
    To make him, as a toad, to croak
    Until the words “awake” I spoke
    And he amphibiously awoke
    Or would I try….
    Pulling rabbits from my cloak
    and disappearing up in smoke…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’d love some lemon cake right about now with a hot cup of tea. Then I’d go off to my circus job as the poster painter. Circus posters are great. Hyperbole in pictures!


    1. Yes, you’re right — circus posters are a wonderful art form in their own right. Maybe you could do a series of circus haiga! 🙂


  15. OMG that is the cutest, cutest book. I love it!! And your lemon cake. Sob. I too want some RIGHT.NOW. (even if it’s early in the morning). If I ran off to join the circus, I’d like to be a trapeze artist (although I’ve never tried it).


    1. I had the same reaction — of course circus folk must eat — but we never think of who might cook for them and what it would be like. 🙂


  16. What an interesting topic! I loved the video with the young people talking about circus food. What an opportunity for them to be part of a circus! Mmmm, part of the circus???? A beautiful gypsy lady who tells fortunes–only good fortunes, of course!


  17. This is such an interesting premise for a book. From your samples it looks like both the poet and illustrator had lot of fun. As for being part of the circus – no thanks! Even watching all the derring-do gives me sweaty palms, let alone being part of it. I suppose I could sell popcorn, mini-donuts or deep-fried Mars bars though!


  18. Cornelius as a trapeze artist … and lemon cake! What a fun premise. I think I would join Mr. Cornelius — I have wept from the beauty of trapeze artistry. Amazing! And I am thrilled about SHARING THE BREAD. Thank you! Will send you my address asap. xo


  19. Does the circus have a place for a taste-tester?! Something behind the scenes for me, please. 🙂 Close to the lemon cake, perhaps.


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