Ten-year-old Babo has grown up on an abandoned circus camp in a war-torn country, believing her circus-star parents will come back any day now. So she's none too happy when an American couple adopts her, calls her Betti, and takes her away from her fellow parentless friends, to a very confusing America. Betti misses her old home, and she's worried her real parents will never be able to find her. She's determined to run away, but as she gets to know her new parents, little sister, and even a new friend, Betti starts to feel like maybe she could be happy in her new American home.
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Lisa Railsback is a playwright and a remarkable new voice in middle-grade fiction. She lives in Austin, Texas.From School Library Journal:
Grade 4–6—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
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