By hook or by crook or by ostrich back: Evanston resident Betsy Bird’s delightful new novel LONG ROAD TO THE CIRCUS

October 8, 2021

EPL Collection Development Manager Betsy Bird wrote an incredible new middle-grade historical fiction for kids, LONG ROAD TO THE CIRCUS. Listen to her interview for fascinating details. Plus, check out companion crafts available now, and info on how to find more Betsy Bird – librarian, podcaster, writer, reviewer.

Do you remember the first nickel you ever earned?

My first attempt at earning a nickel involved my father, who wanted to impress his parents with polite and perfect children (ha!); sushi; a certain shark-like swallow-without-chewing technique; a nearly silent restaurant; and a very memorable belch from an unlikely 7-year-old: me.

I’ll let you fill in the details – and yes, it was just as mortifying as you imagined.

This unfortunate pneumatic memory came to mind while I encountered Suzy’s attempt to earn a nickel in a brand-new historical fiction for children.

The best kids’ books do that —

make me remember

yes, crystallized episodic memories from when I was a kid.

But more than that, they tap into what it felt like to be a kid.

and this middle-grade novel is one of the best: Long Road to the one of the best: Betsy Bird, Evanston Public Library Collection Development Manager, writer, blogger, podcaster, leader & literary expert.

The story, a historical fiction novel that follows a young girl’s rather preposterous path from mundane 1920s farm life to adventure-filled vocation, does more than simply amuse (although if you’re in the market to be entertained, it does that quite well!).

It’s chock full of authentic, idiosyncratic & intriguing characters, delicious layer cakes of stories-within-stories, and on top of all that, it’s laugh-out-loud funny.

Plus, Bird tackles universal themes of wanderlust, the nature and permanence of identity, and the reactions to – or provocations of – the twists and turns in life, all through Suzy’s conversations and curious internal musings.

Yep. She packs it all in.

It would work equally well as a read-aloud to grandkids or the classroom, as an independent read for your middle-grader, or even as an all-ages armchair-travel ride back in time (whether or not you’re inclined to get on the back of an ostrich in real life – that’s the beauty of stories, after all).

Of course, getting a chance to hear directly from the author always makes a book that much more intriguing, and it’s particularly true in this case.

I was so lucky to get a chance to speak with Bird, and wow, Bird’s witty, engaging speaker-storyteller style kept me fascinated.

I’ll bet you a nickel that you’ll love her too…

…especially once you hear details about the unique origins of this story. You can click here, or keep scrolling, to listen to the entire audio interview.

To celebrate, we’ve put together a couple of crafts that you can stop by and do with your kids at either the Main Library or the Crown Branch. Click here for more information. And definitely keep an eye out for an author visit in Winter 2022.

In the meantime, check out Long Road to the Circus (e-book, e-audiobook, or print) and find more Betsy Bird here:

Listen to the interview below!



Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.

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