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Adam and His Tuba

Illustrated by Maja Kastelic / Translated by Olivia Hellewell
Published by NorthSouth Books
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

"Readers will be left screaming, 'Encore!'" –Kirkus Reviews

A playful book about finding your own path.

Everyone in the circus loves to perform - except for Adam, the youngest member of the Von Trapeze family.

Wherever Adam Von Trapeze’s family circus performs they inspire audiences with their breathtaking feats. Grandma Antonia breathes fire, Uncle Artem builds dizzying human pyramids, and Papa Alexei and Mama Anastasia dance blindfolded on the tightrope.

Only Adam, the youngest of the family, doesn’t show an interest in circus tricks and loud applause. The family is concerned. Where did they go wrong? But one day they are enchanted by the sound of a tuba. And from that day forward, the famous Von Trapeze family circus features a new performer—the one they never expected to be part of the family tradition. And he was a star.

Two of the most famous Slovenian children's book artists take us into the world of the circus in their first joint work. Ziga X Gombac tells the story of Adam in clear, subtle words. With a reduced palette of warm sepia colors, Maja Kastelic lights up the circus world on and off the stage. Together they plead for trust in one's own path and encourage us to take our place in the world.

About The Author

Ziga X Gombac is from Slovenia, where he studied journalism and worked as a journalist, music editor, and editor-in-chief. He is currently the editor and presenter of the first podcast for youngsters on national radio in Slovenia. He has written numerous books for children and adults, which have won many awards. Storytelling and creating, both in books and at events, is an important part of his life.

About The Illustrator

Maja Kastelic was born in Slovenia, where she studied painting, philosophy, and visual art theory. For several years she worked as a fresco restorer before devoting herself to illustrating children’s books. Prizes include the White Ravens Award, and her work has been displayed at the Illustrators’ Exhibition in Bologna. Her last book for NorthSouth was Hans Christian Andersen -The Journey of His Life.   

Product Details

  • Publisher: NorthSouth Books (February 28, 2023)
  • Length: 40 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780735844971
  • Grades: K - 2
  • Ages: 4 - 8

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Raves and Reviews

"Golds and grays underlie the illustrations, vivified by red stripes, flushed cheeks, pink bouquets, and bursts of light; each panel in this heartwarming tale is full of captivating period details."

– Foreword Reviews, starred review

"Gombac’s clear yet understated nod to the importance of finding one’s own path is sure to strike a note with young readers and may even reassure some caregivers. An entertaining look at a bygone era, brimming with encouragement to follow one’s dreams."

– Kay Weisman, Booklist

"The only member not taking center stage is the youngest, Adam, who has attempted all of these things without success. While the family gathers to discuss how they can best help him thrive, a magical melody fills the air. The family investigates and finds Adam playing the tuba with unbelievable skill. The family is gobsmacked: “How come we never noticed, or heard him, before now?” “It would appear we were completely caught up in our circus tricks,” says Papa Alexei. It’s a striking thought and one that will resonate with many readers—and hopefully with many caregivers who are trying to turn their children into things they’re not. Once Adam’s talent is discovered, he’s able to join the newly modified family business, proving that the best traditions allow for adaptations so that everyone feels included.

Readers will be left screaming, 'Encore!'"

– Kirkus Reviews

"a lovely addition to libraries seeking unusual international fare in books and those needing books on kids who beat their own drum."

– School Library Journal

"A family of circus performers face a moral reckoning in this playfully illustrated story of acceptance"

– Publishers Weekly

"Warm sepia-colored paintings light up the Von Trapeze’s circus world in this lighthearted story about finding one’s own path."

– Marilyn Ward, OmniLibros

"The book has beautiful illustrations, to capture the attention and imagination of young children. Highly recommend this wonderful title for any children’s library!"

– Children's Literature Reviews

"Adam and His Tuba conveys a touching message of how everyone can contribute to something in their own way if given a chance. The illustrations are masterful and original offering the superb feeling of an old time circus."

– Kiss the Book Blog

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More books from this illustrator: Maja Kastelic