The Bonaventure Adventures: Mabel’s Fables Book Review

The Bonaventure Adventures by Rachelle Delaney




Puffin Canada

May 2017

Middle grade

As a descendant of a famous Romanian circus family, Seb Konstantinov’s life has always involved skilled performers, animal acts and constant travel. But the once thriving circus has fallen upon hard times and its future is uncertain.

While his father, Dragan, attempts to modernize, Seb goes behind his back and applies to the prestigious Bonaventure circus school in Montreal. There’s only one problem: Seb has absolutely no circus talents. His dismal balance and failed acrobatic skills are a fact that both he and his father have long accepted. But Seb has hope, not only for his circus abilities but for the future of his family’s circus.

To his surprise, Seb is immediately accepted — without so much as a request to audition. As he makes his way from Eastern Europe to snowy Montreal, he soon discovers that the notoriously mean school “Directrice,” Angelique Saint-Germain, has motive for granting Seb acceptance. An old family friend of his father, she believes that Dragan is heir to a lucrative circus empire and that he will save the school from its own financial demise.

Unfortunately, Seb has no remarkable circus skill, nor the finances to help the school. What he can offer, however, is wisdom. As a self-proclaimed circus scholar, Seb knows the power of a story, and with his vision and storytelling abilities, he attempts to bring modernity to the circus and revive his family’s crumbling legacy.

Nicole’s rave: Despite being about the circus, The Bonaventure Adventures is really a story of friendship. Seb and his friends may not be your traditional circus performers, but they each offer a unique set of talents: Frankie does parkour, and her rough life has led to her unconventional acrobatic skills; Banjo, a boy with no internal compass, walks in everywhere late but has fantastic stories to share; and Seb is the scholar of the trio. This all comes in handy, when, through ingenious plotting and a bit of courage, they attempt to save the best circus school in the world.

Rather than over-the-top circus antics performed at lightning speed, Delaney opts for a slow, rhythmic unfolding of events and revelations. Her eloquent writing and attention to detail carried me through. Along with glimpses of Canada, I enjoyed the depth and nuance of The Bonaventure Adventures. Seb’s quest to understand his role in the circus is intertwined with the need to help his family, and inevitably the school itself. Plus, you can never go wrong with a lesson of belonging in one’s unique way.

While there is no thrilling adventure or crazy encounters in The Bonaventure Adventures, it caters well to readers looking for a quiet book about the power of friendship, family and determination. – Reviewed by Nicole Abi-Najem

Rating: 3.5/5

Age in store: 10

Perfect for fans of: The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee StewartCircus Mirandus by Cassie BeasleyThe Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon.