Catch Me When I Fall

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Set in Racine, Wisconsin during the Great Depression, Catch Me When I Fall is the story of one gutsy twelve-year-old girl’s quest to learn the identity of her father, the father her mother refuses to talk about. What’s the big secret? When Emma finds a photograph hidden in her mother’s bureau and spots a circus poster featuring Filippo the Flying Wonder, she believes she’s stumbled on the truth. The aerialist’s resemblance to the man in the secret photo is too close to be coincidence. Rebelling against her mother’s warning not to go near the circus, Emma disguises herself as a boy and lands a job with the circus, determined to unravel the dark mystery that haunts her. It is here, amidst the sawdust and illusions of circus life, that Emma makes discoveries about her past that ultimately help her accept herself for who she truly is.


Advance Reviews for Catch Me When I Fall:

“Catch Me When I Fall  combines a spunky heroine, an enticing portrait of the circus in its heyday, and a richly detailed Depression-era Wisconsin setting, resulting in a book that middle-grade readers and their teachers will definitely enjoy. Bonnie Graves nails both longing and laughter in this accessible chapter book.”

-Lee Galda, Marguerite Henry Professor of Children’s and Young Adult Literature, Emerita

“Move over, Pippi Longstocking and Anne of Green Gables!  Another enchanting red-haired heroine is about to join the ranks of classic fictional heroines.  Bonnie Graves masterfully creates an indelible heroine in Emma Monroe, a plucky twelve year old with a backstory that will break your heart and a sense of humor and adventure that will make you giggle. Rich with historically accurate detail, Bonnie Graves manages to keep her young readership in mind as she weaves together an appealing tale of mischief, adventure, and the search for identity.   The plot moves forward with the speed and excitement of a circus act.  Rather than a “who done it,” Catch Me When I Fall has the question “who am I?” at its heart.  Emma’s poignant search for that answer will captivate young readers.  Bravo, Bonnie Graves, for crafting such a beautiful and engaging tale!”

-Deborah Appleman, Hollis L. Caswell Professor of Educational Studies, Carleton College, Author of 12 books of teaching of literature to adolescents

“From the opening scene, Catch me when I Fall will have readers rooting for the plucky heroine, as she walks across the narrow railing of the Kinsie Avenue River Bridge, thirty feet above the water. Intrepid, twelve-year-old Emma Monroe has two great desires. To discover the identity of her father. And to join a circus. Her mother ignores the first, and forbids the second. But determined and stubborn, Emma stares down each and every difficulty that stands in her way in the course of her quest for both. This is historical fiction at its very best. The depiction of life in the mid-west during the Great Depression is authentic in every detail, as is the portrayal of circus life in its heyday. Highly recommended.”

-Janet Graber, McKnight Artist Fellow, is an award winning author. Her works include Muktar and the Camels, The White Witch and Resistance.

Bonnie Graves has done it again! Catch Me When I Fall is a heartfelt, exciting romp through the vividly imagined world of a circus in Depression-era Racine, Wisconsin. You’re on an emotional rollercoaster as you follow daredevil Emma on her search for the truth about her absent father. Emma’s dogged detective work exposes truths about her father, her family, and herself that turns her world upside down. With twists, turns, and lots of laughs this historical fiction with a timeless heroine will delight young readers.

– Thomas Beecher, Writer: Netflix’s Best.Worst.Weekend.Ever.

“The Big Top! Elephants! Trapeze artists! The sawdust swirls through this enchanting read by Bonnie Graves, catching young readers up into a thrilling world gone by, filled with sights, sounds, colors, and scents that convince them that indeed, they are there, under the Big Top in 1932, in the midst of the Depression, in Racine, Wisconsin, hitching a ride along with Emma, a lovable, spunky twelve year old. This delightful story of Emma Monroe, determined to find the identity of her father, will hook readers from the beginning chapter.”

-Margo Sorenson, author of Secrets in Translation, finalist for the Minnesota Book Award in YA Fiction.

“Come join the circus!  Live its smells, its sights, its fantastic strangeness!  And do it all through Emma, Bonnie Graves’ determined and appealing heroine.  Catch Me When I Fall will stay with you for a long time.”

-Marion Dane Bauer, author of Newbery Honor book, On My Honor.

“One moment changes everything for fearless twelve-year-old Emma Monroe when she happens upon a poster advertising the circus and believes without a doubt that the man in the picture is her absent father. It is Emma’s tenuous relationship with her mother, however, that drives her to sneak onto the circus grounds in the hopes that under the Big Top she can discover her missing father – and the missing pieces of her own story.

Emma’s adventure breathes with life as she enters a vibrant circus culture filled with people and animals wrought with such detail that they’re rendered unforgettable. The surprising heart of the novel lies in Emma’s relationship with her mother and the undercurrent of all that is at stake if Emma is wrong  – or right – about who she is. Catch Me When I Fall will draw in readers who dream of adventure and enjoy getting lost in the glossy veneer of a time gone by. They will love discovering with Emma that, even outside the circus grounds, wonders can lie around every turn.”

-Susanna Paterson, K-8 Librarian