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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Long Road to the Circus (by Betsy Bird) 7-Day Cover Reveal: Day Two!

We continue our series of revealing one piece of interior art for the upcoming Long Road to the Circus by Betsy Bird (that would be me), on shelves everywhere October 5th. For one whole week I will be revealing a piece of spot art by David Small, culminating in a reveal of the book’s cover on Monday.

Today, I’d like you to meet one of the heroes of my book. Many of the characters in it are based on real people. And, in one case, a real bird. An ostrich, to be precise, so ornery that he made dinosaurs look peaceful in comparison. Gaucho the ostrich was the terror of Mendon, Michigan. Owned by an elderly ex-circus performer named Madame Marantette, he was notable for his nasty temper. Imagine a highly strung giant chicken with killer toenails. That was Gaucho.

Here is the actual notice in the paper about the bird:

To get Gaucho right, David Small had to imbue him with pure unadulterated venom and irritation. You have to see that he’s just itching to cause some trouble. Quite frankly, I think David nailed it.

Long Road to the Circus, illustration by David Small

“They were huge. But that’s not what I found so strange, seeing them so close up. Not nearly. It was their necks. Like some fool took a snake or an elephant’s trunk and, as a prank, stuck it between the body and the head of this poor creature. I could deal with the size. I could deal with the gait and their big blank eyes. But the way that neck moved just played kitty claws down my spine. Name me one thing in this good great world important enough to justify a neck like that. One thing. Can’t be done.”

Tomorrow, a glimpse of Gaucho’s less than charming qualities.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.