Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Betti on the High Wire” as Want to Read:
Betti on the High Wire
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Betti on the High Wire

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  303 ratings  ·  77 reviews
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 nev ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Puffin Books (first published June 9th 2010)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Betti on the High Wire, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Sophia C Which parents? Her circus parents or her American parents?
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  303 ratings  ·  77 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Betti on the High Wire
Paul Sheckarski
Aug 05, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Privileged white author shoves words into little refugee girl's mouth. I know you've done work with refugees, woman, but that doesn't give you the right to speak as one of them, or to appropriate their struggle for your own profit and glory.

You go further, ignoring the fact that the countries responsible for all these wars you deplore are the ones you seem so desperate to valorize: rich, white, Western.

Teaching children, especially children of color, that they can trust policemen is painfully mi
My 11 year old daughter read this and says it was the best book that she's read. And she's a big reader. She insisted that I read it -- and I'm glad I did! And I'm glad she loved it!

I'm not going to rate it, because I very rarely read YA books, so mine wouldn't be a fair scale. But I would recommend it to kids. Yes, it's straight forward, and no, it's not complicated or layered. But it's geared toward tweens! And in that way, I think it does a good job at introducing the complexities of refugees
Jun 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-amerika, funny, j, adoption
Ok, yes. Yes, you know pretty much exactly what's going to happen as soon as you read a summary of this book. Yes, most of the characters are pretty darn flat. Yes, there are some cheesy parts.


But I have a weakness for adoption stories.
But the way that the author never reveals the country of origin is clever clever clever.
But the way that Betti approaches amerikan society with a completely fresh perspective is so illuminating.
But I loved the way that she deconstructed words so that she
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
only giving this 2 stars because i might have enjoyed this when i was 7.
30% done and I can't keep reading. I have no curiosity whatsoever because I am pretty sure I can see where it is going. It comes from the imagination of the adoptive parent regarding what may be going on inside the head of a 10 year old, adopted from an unspecified war-torn land. The child is at an exceptionally difficult age for any adoption, and she wants to stay with what is familiar but she is not given that option and who would deny her a wealthy family, even if she doesn't want it?

What is
Sep 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, young-adult
Babo's parents will come back for her...

Or so she thinks. Sadly, Babo's reality is another. Her country is being torn by war and her parents are both dead, leaving her in the care of Auntie Moo, a woman who kindly took charge of the orphaned circus children after an attack. Luckily for Babo, an American family filed adoption papers. But will Babo, with her broken eye and missing toes, be able to adjust in her new country?

Railsback didn't hold back on the heartwrenching material. Babo's insisten
I won this book on good-reads first-reads, it is an audio book, I ended up listening to most off it and then I got it at the library, becasue I wanted to take it with me to finish it and I read faster then she was talking.
I liked both versions, it was an eye opening book on what it might be like for some refuge, foreign children when they first come to America. It broke my heart some, and made me want to be more patient with them.
Susan  Dunn
Aug 02, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: j-fiction
Sounded better than it was. A young girl from an unnamed war torn country is adopted by an American couple and their daughter. The author's writing style kept me off balance, and Betti was just weird enough to not be totally sympathetic or likeable. I give it a shrug.
Debbie McNeil
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Railsback has created memorable characters and very tender relationships that got to me despite a somewhat flawed story.
Sep 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's no limit to the number of beautiful stories, like this one, that the world is ready to receive. I feel certain that for many years to come, Betti on the High Wire will be a surprising and special revelation to thousands of readers who take a chance on it, branching out to discover the remarkable talent and emotional insight with which Lisa Railsback writes. Here is a story on par with just about anything else in the genre of children's literature from 2010, a book that I am very surprise ...more
Astrid Lim
A good middle grade novel about Babo, an immigrant/refugee of war who has been adopted by an American family. This is a great story to introduce about war to the children, and how it will impact the kids in many countries. Babo is a great heroine, even though sometimes a little bit too one dimensional.

This book simplify some things, especially the importance of adjustment (mentally, culturally, etc) for immigrant kids who just arrived in the U.S. I can't imagine why Babo's adoptive parents didn'
Janine Darragh
I appreciated the story of Betti getting adopted from her war-torn country and the struggles she faced in coming to her new home. I couldn't get past the way the author depicted Betti learning English and the mistakes she made. It read like an Amelia Bedelia book to me (e.g. swimming poo for pool and toes for toast), and her spelling and comprehension errors seemed to be more for comic effect than anything else as they are incongruent with the way speakers of other languages learn English.
Avery Spangler
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My mom bought this book for me when I was in third grade. This book is definitely not for a third-grade level but I read a higher level than the average so it was OK for me, but it might not be okay for every third grader. I recently re-read it, and I still love it. It really makes you want to keep reading, and you'll root for Betti on her path to a better life, even if she isn't rooting for herself.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Has my name.

I picked this book because it has my name in the Title. Lol. Quick fast read. Enjoyable for teenagers and young adults to read and relate to about children in war torn countries and how they adapt to US.
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I felt like I understood a little bit better what it might be like to be adopted from a war torn country and come to America. The book succeeds in its quest to have the reader empathize with the protagonist. Very enjoyable and interesting.
Chi Chi
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tiah Varner
Apr 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love this book so much! It is a easy read for 10 year old girls and I would suggest if your a boy and you want to read this book I would suggest reading something else.
Miranda B
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quarter-4
I really enjoyed reading this book, it was very interesting and kept me hooked. I liked the characters in the book because for the most part they were all happy.
Sep 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Babo lives in the circus camp with the other left-over kids, orphans of an unnamed war in an unnamed country. She was found wandering in the destroyed camp when she was three-years-old, the only survivor of the traveling circus folk. But Babo believes her parents are still alive--her mother is the tallest woman in the world with a tail, her father the green alligator man and they live an active life in Babo's fertile imagination. Every night Babo tells her "Big Mouth" stories to the other kids i ...more
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We actually listened to this book in the car (my seven year old and I). We loved this story. It's beautifully written.
Cindy Hudson
Oct 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At 10, Babo is the oldest in a camp of “leftover kids” who have lost their parents to war. She helps Aunt Moo care for the littler ones and likes to tell stories of her mama and dad who were in the circus. When families from America adopt Babo and her friend George, she worries that if she leaves, her parents won’t be able to find her when they come back. Babo, now Betti, finds her new home confusing and has trouble fitting in. She wants to go back to her home country, but each day she finds ano ...more
Mar 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

At ten years old Babo is the oldest of the “leftover” kids living at an abandoned circus camp in a small, forgotten, war-struck town. All children at the abandoned camp have no family and are slightly deformed, Babo has a “broken eye” that is completely blind, but that does not stop her from imagination, creativity and caring for the younger children. She is very mischievous and gets herself and others in loads of trouble at the camp. Babo is one of the only children living there that does not
Jul 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got the ARC of this book from Goodreads, and it's a winner! Betti is rescued from a makeshift refugee camp on the grounds of an old circus and adopted by an American family. But the transition isn't easy for her. She's tough as nails on the outside, but inside she's afraid of hunger, soldiers, bombs, Americans, and what might be happening to the other children at the camp without her to take care of them.

There's enough going on in this book to please people reading for plot - in some ways it's
Sep 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
So why is this book getting such a high rating? Because it is simply that good. It's not that it's a wildly made up fantasy about sparkly paranormal creatures or shape changing critters (though I love stories about both and the little girl in this story DOES have quite an imagination). It's not that it's a true story being recounted breath by breath (though it certainly could be and is is some fashion for many out there). It IS in fact the way the story speaks straight to your passin ...more
Oct 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Betti on the high wire is a book about a girl named babo who lived in an old circus that was burned down during the war. she is adopted by american parents and taken to America where she has a very hard time getting used to her new home and understanding english and a new lifestyle. i really loved babo and i thought the book was very interesting and enjoyed reading it alot. there were a few things about the book that really annoyed me though. one was that changed her name to betti without even a ...more
Babo, with her "broken" eye and fantastical circus stories , is a "leftover" (orphan) from a war torn country and has only ever known poverty, hunger, and war. When she is unexpectedly adopted by an American "melon" family, she unwillingly must leave behind all she has known to start a new and unfamiliar life in America. Despite her constant efforts to be bad, Babo, now Betti, learns to adapt to her new home and family while realizing she doesn't have to forget her past. A combination of tragedy ...more
Jan Carlson
This book is about ten year old Babo who lives in a war torn country. Her parents were killed by soldiers when she was three. An American family adopts her and renames her Betti.. She doesn't want to leave her friends and the old woman who raised her. When she arrives in the United States, she is frightened by the many strange devices like the box that locks up people (TV) and has a difficult time understanding the strange idioms Americans use. I liked this book because it points out the vast di ...more
Sidney R
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The main characters are Bettie,George,Maya,Lucy,and the Buckworths. Betti and George are from a circus war town camp and the Buckworths are the adopting parents of Betti and they live with Betti's sister Lucy and the Buckworths birth daughter. The main problem is Betti moving to America.

I thought this book was really good and interesting. The Two Quotes in the story that I liked were"Paint your dreams,Summer Six."Along with "They stood up for themselves;they fought for what they believed in,but
Ariana Hanaei
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Betti On the High Wire by Lisa Railsback is a great book. The author did a great job with developing Betti and making her into a survivor. Lisa Railsback wrote an important theme into the book. Betti is a very loud and creative character who has been through a lot. I think it was very heartbreaking to read that Betti still thinks her parents are coming back for her even after the war. When Betti gets adopted, she didn't think her parents would ever find her. She wasn't adapting to her home easil ...more
Cristina Chaves
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I met Lisa, the author, last week. She's a friend of my sister's and that's how I came across this book. She is the sweetest person you can imagine, so maybe my review will be a bit biased? Oh well. I know there's always something a bit unsettling about a white american writing stories about things they could never even dream of living themselves. But despite that I do believe Lisa was capable of capturing it all very well. The book was so sweet; I laughed, I cried (OK, mostly I cried :)), I was ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • From You to Me
  • The Giver: Graphic Novel
  • Ashfall (Ashfall, #1)
  • Runaway Twin
  • Ali Cross
  • A Night Divided
  • Starters (Starters, #1)
  • Belly Up (FunJungle, #1)
  • Last in a Long Line of Rebels
  • Invisible Emmie
  • Ungifted (Ungifted, #1)
  • The Boy on the Wooden Box
  • Fly Away Home
  • A Tale of Magic... (A Tale of Magic, #1)
  • Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
  • The Secret of Van Rink's Cellar
  • Demigods & Magicians: Percy and Annabeth Meet the Kanes
  • The Bridge Home
See similar books…

I live on my ranchette on the outskirts of Austin, Texas, with dogs, cats, deer, and other wild animals. My environment is very serene; it is my writing sanctuary. Currently I'm writing plays and novels for kids.

One of my goals with NOONIE'S MASTERPIECE was to write a novel that would be relevant for both kids and adults. It's a tribute to any creative person who understands the joy, anguish, an

News & Interviews

You’d think that with, well, everything this year has had in store for us, readers would flock to sweet stories with happy endings. But as...
170 likes · 59 comments