“I love writing. I’ve pursued it with a passion.”—Betsy Byars
Betsy Byars is a Newbery Medal winner and a National Book Award winner. Her books have appeared on the best books lists of the American Library Association, School Library Journal, and American Bookseller, among others.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When she was a young girl living in Charlotte, North Carolina, Betsy Byars thought being a writer was a boring career, and never imagined she’d become an author one day. But years later, while her husband attended graduate school, Byars started writing articles for The Saturday Evening Post, Look, and other magazines. And as her family grew and her children began to read, Betsy Byars began to write books for young readers. She learned that her childhood preconceptions about writing were incorrect and that there was more to being a writer than just sitting in front of a typewriter all day. In fact, she discovered firsthand that it was exciting and stimulating to create her own stories and characters.
Betsy Byars’s first children’s book was published in 1962, after it had been rejected nine times. Since then, Byars has won the Newbery Award and the National Book Award and has received glowing reviews for her many novels and picture books. Kirkus Reviews has called Byars “a master of perfectly chosen incident and phrase.” And The New York Times Book Review noted, “Byars has the uncanny ability to know the secret lives, the outward postures, and the exact words her characters would surely use.” Today, Byars’s books continue to be favorites with children both in the U.S. and abroad, and they appear on numerous state reading lists.
Well-known for her Blossom Family Quintet, Betsy Byars says she never intended to write more than one book about the lovable Blossom family.
“Early in my career I decided not to do sequels. I know that children enjoy them, but I valued the feeling that this was the only time I would write about these characters. I felt it gave me an added incentive to do my best by them, to tell readers everything I knew, to hold nothing back. That worked for twenty-five years, and while I was very fond of certain characters and hated to say good-bye to them, I never had any real problem going on to something new.”
Though Byars started her first Blossom book, The Not-Just-Anybody Family, “with the same plan in mind—one set of characters, one book,” she soon realized she felt differently about these characters and knew their story could not be contained in just one book. “I found I had been captured by the family as surely as if they’d thrown a net over me,” she says.
“When four of the Blossom books had been published I got to feeling lonely for the family, and it occurred to me that there was yet another story to tell. I remembered that when I was a child, I had a dog named Mac, and Mac was put on trial for murder—his victim was someone’s pet chicken.” This episode was the inspiration for Wanted . . . Mud Blossom, in which Pap Blossom’s dog Mud gets in big trouble when a pet hamster disappears.
Of the Blossom books, Byars admits, “This time I guess it took me five books to tell all I knew about these characters and to do my absolute best by a family I came to care a great deal about. Of course, when I finished the fourth book, I said there wouldn’t be any more, and I was wrong. So . . .”
Betsy Byars received a degree in English from Queens College, North Carolina. She lives with her husband, a college professor. They have four grown children—one son and three daughters—and five grandchildren. “My own hobbies,” Byars says, “are rather quiet. I like to read and do needlework, and I love animals. But my husband has some very interesting hobbies, and through him, I’ve learned to fly and earned my pilot’s license. Together, we fly all over the United States. Since our children are all grown now, we also travel a great deal in Europe, but we take commercial flights because our plane is not really equipped to make transatlantic flights.”
BEANS ON THE ROOF
“[Byars] holds attention; makes every word count; devises believable, childlike verse. . . . Young readers should be delighted.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews
“Byars’s portrayal of the Bean family is fresh, crisp, and perfectly done. . . . Should be a first choice among children just beginning chapter books.”—Starred, School Library Journal
COAST TO COAST
—An American Bookseller Pick of the Lists —An IRA-CBC Children’s Choice
“Lively writing, enthralled setting: unusual and entertaining.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews
“Captures the excitement of the adventure and the vivid personalities of the old man and his granddaughter.”—School Library Journal
“The details about flying will draw readers in, as will the loving story of friendship over the generations.”—VOYA
WANTED . . . MUD BLOSSOM
—An ALA Notable Children’s Book —A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year —An Edgar Allan Poe Mystery Writers Award Winner
“The unpredictable Blossoms make a welcome return in this hilarious story of truth, justice, sibling rivalry, and unrequited love. . . . Byars captures the conflict and tension of courtroom drama, the ups and downs of personal relationships, and the rewards of lasting friendships in a book full of complex emotions, simply told.”—Starred, School Library Journal
“Betsy Byars has a sure hand for dealing with the absurdities of human follies, deftly plotting her narrative in short chapters, each one ending in a cliffhanger that leaves her audience pleading for more.”—Starred, The Horn Book Magazine
“A little like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this fifth romp with the Blossom clan flits lightly from amusing episode to hilarious set scene. . . . There’s no reason to single out a best Blossom book—this is as funny as any, its wit nicely laced with pungent good sense.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews