Sawdust in His Shoes



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 him in.

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 earth?

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 children's novel.

Product Details

$9.95  $9.15
Plough Publishing House
Publish Date
June 01, 2018
5.5 X 0.7 X 8.0 inches | 0.45 pounds

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About the Author

Eloise Jarvis McGraw (1915-2000) was an American author of children's books and young adult novels. Her novels were named Newbery Honor Books three times in three different decades: Moccasin Trail (1952), The Golden Goblet (1962), and The Moorchild (1997). A Really Weird Summer (1977) won an Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery from the Mystery Writers of America. McGraw had a strong interest in history, and among the many books she wrote for children are Greensleeves, The Seventeenth Swap, a light-hearted tale for younger children. McGraw also contributed to the Oz series started by L. Frank Baum. Eloise Jarvis McGraw was married to William Corbin McGraw, and had two children, Peter and Lauren. She lived much of her life in Oregon, where her first novel, Sawdust in His Shoes, is set.


[This] yarn of a boy equestrian with circus in his blood has enough of the old tricks to keep any young person engrossed. Joe Lang, a black-haired gypsy of a boy forced from circus life by the death of his father and taken to an Industrial School, has the dark, brooding appeal of a superior being from a remote, romantic world confined to an unsympathetic grey one. Escaping from the school, Joe is taken in by a saintly farm family who make him one of them by gradually overcoming his fear and distrust of non-circus people....A good, hearty, full-blooded yarn, appealing to both boys and girls. Kirkus Reviews, 1950
Every character in this book is warm, true and different from the others. The language is racy with circus talk and farm talk. The action is fast, funny and often moving.... A good book for children is a good book for any age and Sawdust in His Shoes belongs in that rare category. The New York Times
The allurement of the circus ring and of life under the Big Top has seldom been more clearly indicated than in Sawdust in His Shoes....Each member of the Dawson household is a real person and Joe himself, whose distrust changes into love and loyalty, is admirable drawn. This is a good story. The Horn Book, 1950
One of the 10 best children's books of 1950. --The New York Times