I’m going to Cedar Rapids, Iowa to perform. Why Iowa? I am on a quest to perform a library program in each of the 50 States. Last year I added Hawaii to the list (Lawelawe hiʻialo!). I’m so excited. 5 shows in 24 hours. He doesn’t know it but my 12 year old nephew Matthew will be accompanying me (Matthew, if you’re reading this, surprise! And pack your bags, kid. We’re going on an adventure!).

I love performing my balloon magic show, especially in libraries. Entertaining kids in Boston is great, and now I hope to bring a bit of Massachusetts spirit with me. We’ll be seeing a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley when we land, grab some corn dogs along the way, then onto Cedar Rapid. I’m pumped. Balloons, magic, Iowa!

Jungle Jim performs in libraries all across the world

A little more about Jungle Jim

As seen on MSNBC and The Today Show, Jungle Jim is an artist and entertainer who creates an entire performance world with giant balloon sculptures and unbridled enthusiasm. He is known for his dedication to literacy by providing high-quality summer reading programming at public libraries.

Despite his commitment to literacy and education, he never sacrifices the irreverent improvisational humor his young audiences adore. Jungle Jim’s show is a combination of familiar performance mediums brought together in a new and exciting way. His style has been described as “George M. Cohan meets Jeff Koons.” His use of over 20 volunteers on stage at each performance is what keeps audiences clamoring for his show year after year.

Jim has been nominated by Nickelodeon for Family Entertainer of the Year, and counts the Boston Red Sox, the City of Boston and over 300 public libraries from Hawaii to Maine as regular clients. He is currently a developing his newest performance for the National CSLP Summer Reading theme of “Libraries Rock” entitled “80’s Rock the Library,” and will be debuting this performance in Charleston, SC in June.

Jungle Jim Boston and the 6-foot balloon

How did Jungle Jim become Jungle Jim?

Jim Manning (Jungle Jim) is a professional family entertainer based out of Somerville, MA. He has been a full-time performer since 2004. Jim has performed in over 200 libraries on topics ranging from world history to environmental education to most his most recent program teaching critical thinking through the science of simple machines. Having taught English in South Korea as well as having studied performing arts and writing at University, Jim is well-versed in entertaining and educating children, and creating programs for the entire family to enjoy.



I’m going to Hawaii.

For the past few months, I’ve been reading articles on how to start your blog. Answer a common question. Give a top ten list. Explain why the professor on Gilligan’s Island could make a radio out of coconuts, but couldn’t fix the hole in the boat.

But I’m sitting at Logan, ready to head to Dallas to see a friend and I have my muse. And it’s a little crop of islands in the South Pacific.

I am on a quest. Inspired by Chris Guillebeau’s book "The Happiness of Pursuit," I decided my quest would be to perform at a library in each of the 50 states. So far I’ve visited 7. Hawaii will be my 8th.

I love performing in libraries. I’ve been a professional children’s entertainer for 13 years, full-time for 11. Like most businesses, Jungle Jim’s has evolved. From character parties to balloon twisting to stage shows, I’m where I want to be. And when I came into my own as a stage entertainer, I quickly learned my real passion was performing in libraries. It’s simple. I loved the library when I was a kid. I love performing for children. Naturally library performances are my favorite.

Now, you might be saying to yourself “50 states? Jim, you’re crazy! I don’t even think there are 50 states!” (Spoiler Alert: there are at least 50 states).  

I really like performing for audiences that have never seen my kind of show. It’s not just the 6-foot balloon, or the 15 volunteers or the $20 bribes to disruptive children. It’s the energy. It’s that they give me back as much as I try to give them. It’s me trying to put on a show I would have loved as a 5-year old.

Ok, Jim, how’d you do it? How’d you get booked in Hawaii? 

There are 60 libraries in Hawaii. And I called every single one and asked them if they would host my program. Most said no. 16.6% said yes. Making those calls wasn’t easy. Having 50 people tell me no didn’t feel good. But the 10 that said yes are kind of my heroes. They’re letting me go to Hawaii!!! 



No, I'm not actually trying to justify my obsession with Hawaiian shirts, I swear.

No, I'm not actually trying to justify my obsession with Hawaiian shirts, I swear.

Fun Jungle Jim Fact: Jungle Jim once made a dress out of balloons!


Most people wouldn't be too excited to be up at 6:00 AM for work on a Saturday, and that includes me, but today is different. I'm on my way down to catch the ferry to do two shows in Nantucket today. I'll be performing at the Nantucket Atheneum, a library rich with historical importance for the abolitionist and suffrage movement.

The best client interactions are the ones where both you and the client are excited. When Leslie Malcolm, Department Head for the Weezie Library for Children, reached out to me in September and said she wanted to host my new Minecraft Madness program, I was super pumped. To sweeten the deal, she booked me for two programs and agreed to put me up overnight in Nantucket. Lucky Duck am I!

Last night we had dinner with great friends Elyse and Don. Elyse suggested a book title to me specifically because I happily suffer from "wanderlust" (as do they). Thinking about it this morning I realized what a nice compliment it was.

Travel was the bedrock of my 20s. During that time, I lived in four different areas of the world, all distinct and new to me, and each shaped my life. AmeriCorps taught me how to be a leader. Teaching English in South Korea tested my fortitude. Australia inspired me to become Jungle Jim. And Boston was where my wife (and happiness) waited for me.

When I founded Jungle Jim's, my goal was not to travel through performance, though the desire never left. As my career has evolved, I focused inward on my favorite kind of performance: Library Programming.

What's really cool now is that in the last year and a half I've traveled to all of the states in New England for library work as well as South Carolina. Martha's Vineyard hosted me for their July 4th celebration. We actually just submitted a proposal to do library programs in Hawaii - don't know how that'll turn out, but I'm optimistic!

So today I'll be visiting Nantucket for the first time, offering 2 popular library programs, and getting to entertain kids who live on an island in the Atlantic. I feel very lucky for the experience. Isn't that why we do what we do? For awesome experiences? That's why I'm here!

It's cold in Nantucket!

It's cold in Nantucket!


Random Jungle Jim Fact: Jim has performed on 4 different continents in 9 different time zones.