I facilitate a book group for kids age 10-12, and Friday we discussed Betti on the High Wire. I loved the book so much. It is about a girl in a war torn country who gets adopted by American parents. She is a smart, brave, orphan girl. She is a survivor. She is also a story teller.
Betti is one of many “leftover” kids who lives in an abandoned circus camp. One of the stories she often tells is of her parents, The Tallest Woman in the World With a Tail, and her father…the Alligator Man. She longs for the day they come find her.
I won’t spoil the book for you, but wanted to share something interesting. Out of the five kids (with me making six) all of us had a different picture in our heads of what kind of tail Betti’s mom had.
I envisioned an alligator tail. One child pictured a fox’s tail. One child thought it was a monkey tail. One child envisioned a cat’s tail. Another a lion. Another, a dog’s tail.
Isn’t that something? All of us read the exact same sentences. Each of us envisioned something completely different.
The same could be said for Betti. The author deliberately doesn’t tell you what country she is from and only gives certain physical characteristics. One child thought Betti was blond with a French accent. Some thought she was likely Asian. Of course none of us knew for sure.
Perception is an individual thing.
This book group for 10-12 year olds stays on task better than any adult book group I’ve been part of.
Maybe it’s because there is no wine? Such thoughtful discussions we have.
Two more meetings before our move. Two more books.
We’re really going to miss these wonderful reader/friends. Each with a perspective as unique as Betti’s mother’s imagined tail.