Posted by & filed under General, Texas Digital Newspaper Program.

Sara McNiel continues the story this week by taking our protagonists to even more places than they could have ever imagined. We hope you enjoy this story.

You’ve had the time of your life exploring the circus, and you just can’t stop seeing more. As you wander, you glimpse pointed red and yellow cloth, sticking up from the midst of the crowd. You approach and realize there stands an enormous tent, bigger than anything you’ve ever imagined possible. You’d heard about it from people in town–This is the largest circus tent ever brought to Texas, and you are about to discover what lies inside!

As you and your brothers enter, a door to a giant room catches your eye. There has to be something special in this room, and that must be why the tent is so big, you think. After carefully turning the doorknob and walking inside, a huge room, walls covered in blinking, multi-hued lights and inset buttons, awaits you. Suddenly the door slams shut behind you, and everything start spinning. You and your brothers to fall to the ground. Once you’re finally able to catch your balance, you run back out the door. But when you and your brothers walk back outside, you realize this was not the same circus you were just visiting. What on earth will you do now?

  1. Go back inside the tent to try to find your way back to where you came from
  2. Try to see what the other tents around you might hold
  3. Walk through the crowd to determine if anyone else is as confused as you are





Choice 1–You and your brothers go back inside the tent to try to find your way back to where you came from.

You and your brothers go back into the circus tent, but you realize this isn’t even the same tent you were just in. You notice a tiny glass room that looks only big enough for a small child. A sign pointing to the room reads, ‘Admiral Dot: The Famous Tiny Man’. This catches you in disbelief, and you must go investigate to see if it’s true. As you approach the glass room, you look in to find that there truly is, in fact a grown man standing only 48 inches tall. After seeing this man, you realize that anything is possible.










Choice 2–You and your brothers try to see what the other tents around you might hold, hoping you might find another way back to what you remember.

“Come one, come all! See Chang, the famous, the glorious, the amazing, tallest man in the world,” shouted a man standing next to another tent, this one large and striped in white. You and your brothers glance at each other and without another word start running into the tent, tacitly agreeing you must meet this man! Once you finally make it through the line to enter the tent, the largest man you’ve ever seen towers over everyone. He is draped in a long red robe, accented with golden thread. He is over 8 feet tall, and looks down to smile right at you as you approach. You feel a pang of guilt because Mama couldn’t join you. She’d have loved to meet this huge man with the gentle smile!












Choice 3–You and your brothers walk through the crowd to determine if anyone else is as confused as you are.


After stepping out of the tent, you and your brothers try to take in what’s different about the sights and sounds. While your brother chatters about what he sees, a stir and then a hush descend on the crowd as two people pass through.
“They’re really here! How can this be?”

They are dressed in far grander fashion than you and your brothers have ever seen before. The crushed velvet cloth on the girl’s dress is a rich purple color, lined with gold and silver thread, and the man’s suit is made from a silk so fine and shiny that it reflects light in seeming defiance of the sun’s glory. The pair pass you in their stately procession, and you cannot figure out how you wound up in the same place where these two grand people are visiting. Someone whispers to you, “It’s the Prince and Princess of Wales!”

Posted by & filed under Featured, Texas Digital Newspaper Program.

This week’s story was prepared by Sara McNiel, another undergraduate student assistant in the Digital Newspaper Unit. Sara studies Journalism at the Mayborn School of Journalism here at UNT, and she is minoring in Psychology. Sara will graduate in December of this year.
You’ve already seen a lot, even though you’ve only been at the circus for a short while. Now, with the sun peeking out from the clouds, the day becomes warmer, giving you an extra boost of energy. Despite everything that’s happened already, you still feel the possibilities for fun are boundless, as you and your brothers are surrounded by interesting sights, talented performers, and a plethora of exotic animals. How would you like to continue your adventure at the circus?

  1. Tour the sights!
  2. Watch a show under the big top!
  3. Wander around to see what you can see!






Choice 1–Tour the sights!


While walking through the crowds, you notice from a distance that the circus has its very own train! You and your brothers run up to it to get a closer look, but by the time you got there the train had gotten into a wreck. Everyone worries about how they’re going to get the cars back on the track, when suddenly an elephant walks up. With a little help from an elephant trainer, the elephant used its strong trunk to save the day and lift the cars back on the track. You all marvel at how such big creatures can be so kind and helpful.










Choice 2–Watch a show under the big top!


You and your brothers sit among the crowd waiting for the show to start. Suddenly, the lights start to dim and a spotlight is pointed up at a person standing on a tall ladder, towering over the crowd below. She grabs a swinging bar in front of her, and leaps into the air. While flying across the stage she flips herself around grabbing onto another swinging bar. But as she attempts to continue flipping through the air, her fingers slip on the bar and she misses! You remember what you’d read about back in the spring and warn your brothers, “THIS is why we don’t try trapeze at home!”












Choice 3–Wander around to see what you can see!

While you walk through the busy circus grounds, you notice that there seems to be a close gathering of people ahead. Not sure if something bad has happened or if there’s a new exciting attraction, you and your brothers decide to check it out. As you get closer, you see that the people were gathering around to watch a fight break out between some circus men and citizens. During the rush of all of this chaos, the lioness managed to escape. You and your brothers watch as the lioness runs away freely. This lioness will be difficult to catch, but hopefully she won’t be able to make her way into town! You tightly hold your brothers’ arms, despite Mark’s whining and Jed’s fidgeting.

Posted by & filed under Featured, Texas Digital Newspaper Program.

Calaine Maulden, a student assistant in the Digital Newspaper Unit, continues the story from last week. Last week, our protagonists had to decide whether to talk their parents into allowing them to go, or whether they should just sneak away. This week, Cal lets us find out what happens at . . .the Big Circus!

AT LAST, you’ve made it to Barnum’s Circus, your brothers in tow. The circus is amazing, representing an overwhelming influx of sights and smells. There’s so much to see, from the animals to the carnies–even the audience is a fascinating sight.

Where will you go, now that you’re finally here?

  1. Visit the giant who used to be a slave.
  2. Go see the animals.
  3. Watch the crowd.




Choice 1 – Visit the giant who used to be a slave

As you and your brothers traverse the extra-ordinary, one thing stands out, or rather, stands over. A giant–a literal giant!–is towering above a crowd around him. He is lifting logs taller than most people over his head and spinning in circles. Your brothers rush off to join the crowd, and it takes all your effort to try and keep track of them.

This is going to be a difficult trip.










Choice 2 – Go see the animals

Mark grabs Jed’s and your hands and yanks you both toward the animal cages. He bubbles with enthusiasm about seeing animals he’ll likely never see again. He decides to climb the cage. You and Jed try to stop him, but he’s on top of the cage in no time. You watch in horror and feel time slow around you as he sticks his hand into the cage. The lion notices, and suddenly Mark is short two fingers.

This will be hard to explain to Mama.













Choice 3 – Watch the crowd

You spend your time watching the crowd. The people are almost as colorful as the attractions. You people-watch as your brothers drag you around and chatter gleefully about the circus. Then you notice a shop with a dim light on inside. As you stare into the shop, you see someone with their face covered walking out the back with cash wadded in their hands. You’re fairly certain you’ve just witnessed a robbery, just like the one you’d read about from Mineola!

This is going to be a difficult situation.






Posted by & filed under Texas Digital Newspaper Program.

This week’s author is Calaine Maulden, a student assistant in the Digital Newspaper Unit, who is also a creative writing major. Cal is preparing for graduation this year and had a lot of fun preparing this story. Where could these paths lead?


As you and your brothers wrap up a day of fieldwork, you debate how to go about seeing the circus.  You head back toward the house, with a stop at the garbage heap to snag any of the past month’s newspapers–well-read and somewhat tattered by now from being out in the elements.

You’re pretty sure you can talk Papa around no matter what. It’s Mama you really have to convince.

Mark wants to show Mama and Papa one of the circus ads. He thinks telling them about the variety of what you’ll see and learn will be enough to convince them. Jed thinks you should show your parents a description from someone who actually went there, to let them know what you’ll see so they won’t worry. The idea of just sneaking out has also been tossed into the conversation.

How do you convince Mama?

  1. Show her the ad Mark found.
  2. Let her read someone’s first-hand summary of what they saw.
  3. Don’t bother Mama or Papa with details! Instead, you sneak out with your brothers to see what you can see.




Choice 1 – Show your parents everything you’ll see

You side with Mark, and you all agree to show them an advertisement. Mark and Jed talk on and on about the performing oxen and the Lady Dressed in Glass and more curiosities than any of you can count. After a whole dinner of badgering from the boys, and a promise from you to keep them safe, Papa gives in first, and finally Mama relents. You can go to the circus all day tomorrow!


















Choice 2 – Show her a first-hand description

You think Jed’s plan is the most likely to work. Between Mama and Papa, they’ll be worried but may be convinced by someone else. You show your parents the editorial about last night’s show. You point out it must be safe for the guests, especially with kids being a huge part of the audience. As you thought might happen, all three of you convince Papa first and, after a lot more talking, Papa helps convince Mama to let you go, on the condition you keep them safe. Tomorrow will be exciting, and even better, tomorrow will be something different!













Choice 3 – Sneak out to see the animal den wreck

After going over it again and again, you all decide it’ll be impossible to convince Mama to let you go. She’s worried herself sick about Grandma Thomas, and you know she’d say she can’t risk losing you three. You decide to sneak out after dinner and see the animals in their cages. Before you leave you read in Papa’s paper that some of the animal dens were destroyed, so you all agree you must get a glimpse of their cages. Time for an exciting night out!

Posted by & filed under Texas Digital Newspaper Program.

Over the next few weeks, the Texas Digital Newspaper Program will present you with a time travel adventure that gives you different choices over time and space. Through this, you’ll begin by imagining yourself as a teenager from Brenham, Texas, in the autumn of 1880s. You can visit the different links we provide, but the one you choose will take you to a different option.

Your Adventure Begins

As you pull the heavy pine door closed, a page of newspaper blows under your feet.  It’s hard to read the text beneath the huge portrait of Mr. Barnum, his curly hair and dignified suit belying everything you’ve ever heard about his famous show.

“Everything advertised will lie exhibited, every hoof, horn and feather, every animal, every novel attraction, and the full programme as presented in New York, Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, .St. Louis and all the large cities and towns of the East, will lie exhibited here, Museum Menagerie and Circus in their entirety and positively without curtailment.”

Mama’s been so busy caring for Grandmother Thomas, you know she can’t get out to see anything.  You’re to mind your brothers all week, and you wonder if she could spare some coins to get all three of you in, so long as you promise not to lose the boys. They’re old enough now, anyway, that if you talk to them, they’ll help you get your way.

To convince your brothers to help you, do you:

  1. Show them the ad you found.
  2. Tell them they might get to see a stuffed giraffe (because you know how much these boys like those kinds of gruesome things!)
  3. Besides a giraffe, mention the other mystical creatures they might get to see if they listen to you…





You Chose #1: Show Them the Ad You Found

Your brothers get really excited, for no other reason but to relieve the boredom of a windy autumn–the adults have mostly put them to work pulling seeds out of cotton. But they also know there’re plenty of opportunities for mischief, and they think all three of you can convince Mama of anything under the sun, especially while she’s too distracted by Grandmother Thomas’ illness, and Papa’s busy with getting the cotton harvested.



You Chose #2: Tell Them about the Stuffed Giraffe

You’ve always known your brothers are a lot more interested in decay and dead animals than in all the trained horses or aerial-diving ladies in the world. They also love the idea of getting out of helping Papa with the cotton-picking–the most tedious work they have to do every autumn. They immediately agree to help you talk Mama around.





You Chose #3: Tell Them about Other Mystical Creatures at Barnum’s Circus

Your Mama and Grandmother Thomas spent a lot of time reading Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tales to you, and your whole family pays attention when they hear anything about his stories.  Grandpa Thomas had gotten to see a parade in New Orleans a couple of years ago, and he regaled you all with stories. There’s nothing your brothers wouldn’t do to see a little more into the fairy tales. Jed, the oldest at 12, points out that even if he doesn’t see a mermaid, it’s something different from picking seeds from cotton all day.