The first time I read The Not-Just-Anybody Family, I knew I was reading genius. Betsy Byars uses exactly the right number of words to show her readers what is going on. There was Junior on the barn roof; Maggie, his sister, was doing her toenails; Vern, his brother, was on the ground watching. I have not picked up the book in twenty years but Maggie's lack of interest and Vern's almost ghoulish anticipation of a fall mixed with the hope that Junior really could fly are permanently imprinted in my brain.
Byars has won awards for several of her other books. But for me, The Blossom Family will always be my favorite Betsy Cromer Byars titles.
So what is so great about Betsy Byars' books? They are so accessible - which is a thing these days - accessibility. They run the whole range from funny to heart-wrenching. She writes for all ages but most impressively for that age group that can determine if a person becomes a life-long reader or not - middle grades. Her characters are believable. They get in trouble of all sorts. They all learn something from their adventures - although not always what adults might want them to learn.
Herculeah Jones, Bingo Brown, Junior, Maggie and Vern Blossom, Cracker Jackson, Ant and his Brother, - these are just a few of the likable, quirky and totally normal kid characters that Byars created.
Pick up a Byars book next time you are in the library. You won't be sorry.