BOOK REVIEW: Long Road to the Circus by Betsy Bird


Title: Long Road to the Circus
Author: Betsy Bird
Publication: October 5, 2021
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Children’s Books
Pages: 256

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SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

Twelve-year-old Suzy Bowles is tired of summers filled with chores on her family farm in Burr Oak, Michigan, and desperate to see the world. When her wayward uncle moves back home to the farm, only to skip his chores every morning for mysterious reasons, Suzy decides to find out what he’s up to once and for all. And that’s when she meets legendary former circus queen Madame Marantette and her ostriches. Before long, Suzy finds herself caught-up in the fast-paced, wild world of ostrich riding, that just might be her ticket out of Burr Oak.


My Mom gave me this book a while ago to me to read.  She thought it would be cute to read to my kids.  I agreed then of course it got stuck on my ever-growing bookshelf of to-be-read books. While I really wanted to read it to my kids, who was I fooling I didn’t have the time to read it to them. Between our busy life, there wasn’t much time to be able to read it aloud.

Suzy and her family lives in Burr Oak Michigan.  While her family seems content to stay where they are, Suzy has dreams of leaving the small town behind and find something more.  She thinks that she will be always stuck till one day she follows her Uncle as he leaves the house early one morning.  She discovers that he goes to the notorious Madame Marantette and helps to train her, much to Suzy’s delight and shock, ostriches.  She works out a deal with the Madame to work with the lead ostrich in exchange for etiquette lessons.   I ADORED this book.  I loved it even more because of the location.  I grew up 22 miles away from Burr Oak in Southwest Michigan.  She mentions my hometown and the town that is just down the road from my childhood home. She even talks about the St. Joe County Grange Fair that we went too every year.  Even as an grown adult with children I still make the trip down to the St. Joe County Grange Fair each year with my kids in tow because they need to experience it. 

I really like the writing style of this author.  It flows well and the characters are well rounded. I saw my children in the main character.  She was lovable and her antics made me smile.  I listened to the book and it was the way that it was read that made it even more enjoyable.  Every single character the author had a voice for. It just made the book.  The things that I loved about the book was that it was illustrated by a local author who has illustrated many children’s books.  I even met him when I was in elementary just like the author.  He would always do school tours.  I have all of his books that he wrote with his wife and they are all signed as well.  I just loved this book from beginning to end.  I learned something about the Madame. While she is someone that I know of and have heard about, I know her house is Mendon and that is where David Small lives with his wife.  I didn’t know about the circus and being a famous horse rider. I had my kids listen to the last few chapters of the book with me and they really enjoyed it.  I am so glad that I read this book. I cannot say enough positive things about this books. 

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