2018 - Shortlisted
Stephanie Reeder’s book tells the true story of May Wirth, a Queensland bareback rider performing in circuses around Australasia and in America and England in the early 1900s. Born May Zinga, the heroine of this absorbing narrative was given away by her impoverished mother to Wirth Brothers Circus at seven years of age. Talented and resourceful, she rose above these circumstances to become an international celebrity still remembered as one of the greatest circus riders of all time.
In addition to its engaging story of Wirth’s life and her death-defying feats in the arena, Marvellous Miss May presents rich insights into the circus at a time when it was a major popular entertainment in many parts of the globe. Stunningly illustrated with historical images, Reeder’s book also sheds light on the conditions faced by child performers and circus animals in ways that will fascinate young independent readers and their parents or teachers alike.