Betti on the High Wire
Betti on the High Wire

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Annotation: Firm in her belief that her missing parents will return to the bombed-out circus camp where she lives with a group of "leftover" children, ten-year-old Babo has no desire to leave her war-torn country.
Genre: War stories
Catalog Number: #44504
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Dial
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition Date: 2010
Pages: 277 pages
Availability: Special Order Only - Contact Customer Service at +1 800 637-6581 or +1 217 243-5451
ISBN: Publisher: 0-8037-3388-7 Perma-Bound: 0-605-43774-2
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-8037-3388-6 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-43774-6
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2009040046
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
In an undisclosed war-torn country, Babo is an orphan who doesn't like the Melons e foreigners with round, pink faces. The Melons visit her and the other leftover kids on the circus campgrounds where they live. Babo wants to stay with the other children and tell them stories of her circus family's high-wire act, but instead she is adopted by some American Melons, ahem, the Buckworths, who promptly change her name to Betti. To say that the transition is difficult is putting it mildly. Betti hoards food, her progress in English is slow, and she has trust issues to spare. She hopes her new family will send her back, but they are always understanding, Mrs. Buckworth in particular, who lost her parents, too. This international adoption story is heartwarming and refreshing, and Betti's new beginning is realistic and at times full of adventure. Without really knowing it, she adapts to her new life and finds a place with her family, though she recognizes that her internal conflicts won't ever fall completely away.
Kirkus Reviews
A refugee-adoption tale, minus a real country of origin. Babo lives in a broken-down circus camp in an unnamed war-torn country. Americans visit and adopt her; she goes reluctantly, loath to part with her fellow "leftover kids" and guardian, Auntie Moo, and skeptical that Americans could accept her broken eye and missing digits. Renamed Betti in America, this iron-strong girl fights hard against adapting, because her old circus parents are "the Tallest Woman in the World with a Tail" and "Green Alligator Man," and she plans to run away home. Despite a first-person narration, the text sometimes winks at readers over Betti's misunderstandings (TVs have people trapped inside as punishment) and implies humor or charm about mistakes ("swimming poo," repeatedly, and "toes" for toast). For all her individual word errors, however, her structural comprehension of English defies belief. The story respects Babo/ Betti as a unique, wounded, fiercely responsible individual, but the realism stumbles into uneasy allegory with the portrayal of her unidentified, nonwhite, nobly destitute, filthy and ignorant birth country—especially in contrast to benevolent savior America. (author's note) (Fiction. 9-11)
Publishers Weekly
In this highly original debut, Railsback delivers a poignant comedy rooted in a tragic contemporary reality. Babo%E2%80%94a fierce 10-year-old orphan in an unnamed, war-ravaged country%E2%80%94watches over the younger ""leftover kids"" in the abandoned circus camp they call home. Her bad ""fish eye"" and few missing toes make her better off than those with missing limbs or damaged brains; her overactive imagination provides the group with never-ending stories%E2%80%94and earns her the nickname Babo Big Mouth. Relentless at frightening off well-meaning foreigners who come looking for children to adopt, Babo is horrified when the American Buckworths choose her. In spite of her efforts to behave so badly the Buckworths will send her home, Babo, renamed Betti, slowly warms to America and her new family. The Buckworths%E2%80%94except for mischievous daughter Lucy%E2%80%94are a tad too warm and understanding to be completely believable, but Railsback's backstory of Mrs. Buckworth having been orphaned at a young age eases some doubts and helps Babo bond with her. While some of the subject matter can be grisly, Babo's bravado is endearing and her giggle-provoking adventures lighten the story's dark backdrop. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. (July)
School Library Journal
Gr 46 Babo is the adolescent daughter of circus performers who were killed during a burst of political unrest and violence in an unnamed country. She believes that foreigners simply want to take kids away from their friends and country, making it impossible for them to ever locate their birth parents, and stripping them of their identities. Therefore, she is incredulous and angry when she gets word that an American couple wants to adopt her. Her resistance breaks down a bit when she discovers that a younger orphan is going to the same town that she is. She decides that she will stay until George is settled, and will enlighten the Americans about her country's plight. She worries daily that her parents may come looking for her, clinging to her unrealistic fantasy that they are still alive. Her new family is loving and patient, but Babo, now called Betti, must contend with insults from children who judge her stories to be melodramatic lies. Gradually, she begins to feel comfortable in this country and she grows to trust and love her new family. Railsback captures many aspects of culture dissonance well, and the challenge of bridging two cultures. However, some readers may find the mix of conventional and rudimentary English hard to follow. The plot is convincing and may well resonate with children who have had to adjust to a new situation, but will not likely appeal to a wide audience. Still, the book will be useful in collections that serve adoptees from foreign countries, and also for those patrons who are curious about the experiences of children in countries that are disrupted by war and unrest. Deborah Vose, East Middle School and South Middle School, Braintree, MA
Word Count: 56,556
Reading Level: 3.9
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.9 / points: 8.0 / quiz: 140519 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:3.7 / points:13.0 / quiz:Q50314
Lexile: 650L

Ten-year-old Babo and the other ?leftover kids? live on an abandoned circus camp in a war-torn country. Babo believes her circus-star parents will come back for her any day now, so she is not one bit happy when an American couple adopts her. She hates her new name (Betti) and is confused by everything in America. She?s determined to run away. But as Betti slowly begins to trust her new family and even makes a friend, she decides maybe she can stay just one more day. And then maybe another . . .

Betti on the High Wire is both heartbreaking and hilarious?and completely unforgettable. This brave little storyteller of a girl will wiggle her way straight into your heart.

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