Circus Galacticus Discussion Guide
by Amanda Coppedge

“My parents always told me I was special. The trouble is, I believed them.” Trix opens the book with these lines. By the end of the book, do you think she feels she is special? Why or why not?

Trix searches for a place to belong in the world. She begins this journey by going to the Hall of Mirrors where she hopes to find her “True Self.” What else does Trix encounter during the story which will supposedly help her discover who she is and where she belongs? Do any of these things work?

If you joined the Circus Galacticus, which role would you want to play? Which role do you think you would be assigned? Would they be the same or different? Why?

How would the story have been different if Trix trusted Nyl and went with him in the beginning? Do you think she would have learned how to be loyal to the Mandate the way she became loyal to the Tinkers? Why or why not?

Several people tell Trix that not everyone can be a star, from the Headmistress at her old school to Miss Three. Despite these discouraging words, Trix keeps trying to shine. At the end of the story, Trix becomes the Champion of the Big Top. How does she accomplish this?

What is the Tinkers’ ideal view of how the world should work? What is the Mandate’s ideal? Do you have any sympathy for the Mandate? Do you understand why they believe what they believe? Why or why not?

Nyl tells Trix, “Let me show you that you need not cover your life in spangles and glitter for it to be something glorious. Something happy.” Nyl and the Mandate think the costumes and spectacle of the Circus are covering up unhappiness. What do you think? What is the purpose of the Circus’s glitz and glamor?

Trix struggles with jealousy throughout the story, longing to be in the spotlight and feeling resentful of those who are. She says “There’s a special kind of pain in watching other people get something you want.” How does Trix deal with her jealousy and her desire to be a shining star? Do you think she handles it well, or badly? How do you deal with jealousy?

While Nola rearranges her toolbox she tells Trix “Everything has a place.” Trix feels she has no place on the Big Top and Nola reassures her she does. How does Trix eventually find her place? Do you feel you know your place in the world yet? Does this bother you? Why or why not?

The Tinkers’ treasure is the Seed of Rebirth. The Mandate’s treasure is called Cleansing Fire. What is the difference between the two? What do you think the Mandate would have done with the Cleansing Fire if they were able to use it?

Is Trix “tainted” because genetically she is one of the Mandate? How do others treat her when they learn this? What do you think is more important—your genetics or your behavior?

When Trix is desperate to expose Sirra as a spy and a traitor, she visits Rjool, the self-appointed garbage handler. Rjool remarks that Trix is even willing to “go through her garbage” to expose Sirra. Besides literally digging in the trash, what else do Rjool’s words mean? Do you feel the end justifies the means—that if Sirra had been a spy, Trix would have been justified in digging? Or was it wrong of Trix to try to find dirt on Sirra?

The Outcasts are Tinkers who do not want to blend in with society—they want to be themselves, and don’t care what others think. The Mandate wants everyone to be the same so no one feels unhappiness or strife. How are the Ringmaster and the residents of the Big Top different from these two groups?

Trix thinks the purpose of the Big Top is to fight back against the Mandate. But the Ringmaster says, “This isn’t a battleship. It’s a school, a home, a hope for the future.” What does he mean by this?

When the Big Top receives the Seed of Rebirth, how does it use this new power? What does this symbolize?

THE GIVER is another story about an individual going against the status quo even when it’s difficult or painful. How is Trix like Jonas, the main character in Lois Lowry’s book? How is she different?

How are the residents of the Big Top like the mutants at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in X-MEN? How is the Ringmaster like and unlike Professor X?