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Betsy Byars

“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.


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.”



“[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


—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


—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

Author Bookshelf

A Blossom Promise

By: Betsy Byars

For the Blossom family it's the best day of their lives -- and the worst. Maggie, out west with her mother, is about to become the newest Blossom on the rodeo circuit. And now that the rain has finally stopped,   Junior can at last visit...

Keeper of the Doves

By: Betsy Byars

Amen McBee, the youngest of five sisters, gobbles up words the way other children gobble up sweets.  She couldn't be more different from her elder twin sisters Arabella and Annabella-called the Bellas. ...

The Blossoms and the Green Phantom

By: Betsy Byars

Junior Blossom has finally created the ultimate invention--the Green Phantom. It's big, black, Day-Glo green, and it's beautiful! All it needs is the secret ingredient.

The whole family makes a promise to ensure that...

The Blossoms Meet the Vulture Lady

By: Betsy Byars

A dangerous coyote is surely no match for Junior Blossom. He sets out to build the best trap ever and win the big reward! However, Junior’s inventions aren’t exactly known for their success. A malfunction sets...

The Not-Just-Anybody Family

By: Betsy Byars

When Junior Blossom wakes up in the hospital, his  last memory is of crouching on the barn roof with  cloth wings tied to his arms, and of Maggie and  Vern in the yard below, urging him to fly. That had  been...

Wanted: Mud Blossom

By: Betsy Byars

When Junior brings home the classroom hamster, Scooty, he decides to build the best hamster tunnel ever. But when Scooty goes missing, all evidence points to Mud. In the meantime, Mad Mary is missing, too–although...

Keeper of the Doves

By: Betsy Byars

Amen McBee, the youngest of five sisters, gobbles up words the way other children gobble up sweets.  She couldn't be more different from her elder twin sisters Arabella and Annabella-called the Bellas. ...

The Summer of the Swans

By: Betsy Byars
Illustrated by: Ted Coconis

A Newbery Medal Winner

All summer Sara Godfrey has fretted over herself, her impossible body, her terrible new haircut. One moment she's elated, the next, she's in tears. And she can't figure out why. Maybe her...

King of Murder

By: Betsy Byars

Together with her best friend and reluctant sidekick, Meat, Herculeah Jones meets a famous mystery author, Mathias King, aka the Murder King. King?s novels mirror gruesome, real-life murders, particularly...

The Black Tower

By: Betsy Byars

At the eerie Hunt mansion, Herculeah Jones has been reading aloud to Lionus Hunt, an elderly stroke victim who can only communicate by blinking his eyes (once for yes, twice for no). Mr. Hunt seems to...

The Dark Stairs

By: Betsy Byars

Mystery is in Herculeah Jones’s blood. How could it not be, with a father on the police force and a mother who’s a private eye? So when Herculeah notices a man hanging around the "Dead Oaks"...

Tarot Says Beware

By: Betsy Byars

Madame Rosa, the eccentric local fortune teller, has been murdered, and the only witness is her parrot,Tarot. But he’s not talking. Herculeah Jones thinks she knows who the killer is, but she’s...

Death's Door

By: Betsy Byars

Herculeah Jones finds herself in the middle of another mystery when her best friend Meat barely escapes a hitman’s bullet. Someone must have mistaken Meat for someone else. But who? Herculeah is...

Dead Letter

By: Betsy Byars

When Herculeah discovers a mysterious letter inside the lining of a secondhand coat, she suspects it's a desperate cry for help. If so, what happened to the person who wrote it? Herculeah thinks she knows...

Disappearing Acts

By: Betsy Byars

When Herculeah Jones's best friend, Meat, decides to take a comedy class, he just expects to get a few laughs. But then he discovers a dead body in the bathroom, and realizes that there's nothing funny...

The Midnight Fox

By: Betsy Byars

Tom hates having to spend the summer on a farm . . . until he discovers the midnight fox.

No one asked Tom how he felt about spending two months on his Aunt Millie’s farm. For a city boy, the farm holds...

Trouble River

By: Betsy Byars

Safety is downriver—but first there’s trouble ahead.

As soon as Dewey Martin sees the Indian creeping toward the cabin—and toward his unsuspecting grandmother—he knows what to do:...

The Cybil War

By: Betsy Byars

Young love, told by the Newbery Medal-winning author of Summer of the Swans

Simon is in fifth grade, and every time he sees Cybil Ackerman, his heart pounds. Falling in love with her was easy, but winning her is...

The TV Kid

By: Betsy Byars

Lennie is addicted to television. Even reruns are more exciting than real life, and Lennie likes to pretend he?s the one experiencing the drama. But Lennie?s daydreams lead him into a real situation that...

Cracker Jackson

By: Betsy Byars

A backlist gem from a Newbery-winning author!

Cracker Jackson has a problem. A big, serious, adult problem. When he receives an anonymous note in the mail, he finds out that his old babysitter, Alma, is in danger....

The Computer Nut

By: Betsy Byars

Kate’s new friend is really out of this world—he’s an alien!

When Kate sits down at the computer, nothing seems out of the ordinary. But suddenly a mysterious message flashes up on the...

My Brother, Ant

By: Betsy Byars
Illustrated by: Marc Simont

Meet Ant, the little brother who's big on laughs. In four upbeat stories, Ant and his big brother confront the monster under the bed, recreate the story of the three little pigs, and write a letter to...

Ant Plays Bear

By: Betsy Byars
Illustrated by: Marc Simont

In this delightful follow-up to My Brother, Ant, Anthony comes face to face with a growling bear, pretends to be a dog, and hears a giant tapping on the window. These enchanting stories capture the relationship...