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Betsy Byars (1928–2020)

Author of The Summer of the Swans

86+ Works 21,439 Members 248 Reviews 4 Favorited

About the Author

Betsy Cromer Byars was born in1928. She graduated from Queens College in Charlotte, North Carolina. While she was in graduate school, she began writing articles for The Saturday Evening Post and Look. Byars writes novels for young people. She is an expert at tapping in to the pain of adolescence, show more using bits of her own experience to flavor her characters. She is author of more than 60 books and has won numerous awards. Her book about a 14-year-old girl and her mentally retarded brother, The Summer of the Swans (1970), won the Newberry Award as the most distinguished contribution to children's literature that year. Other books include The 18th Emergency (1973), The TV Kid (1976), and After the Goat Man (1995). Betsy Byars died on February 26,2020 at the age of 91. (Bowker Author Biography) show less


Works by Betsy Byars

The Summer of the Swans (1970) 4,566 copies
Tornado (1996) 1,792 copies
The Pinballs (1977) 1,242 copies
The Midnight Fox (1968) 1,172 copies
The Golly Sisters Go West (1985) 874 copies
Trouble River (1969) 761 copies
Wanted...Mud Blossom (1990) 650 copies
The Eighteenth Emergency (1973) 616 copies
The Not-Just-Anybody Family (1986) 515 copies
The Cybil War (1981) 512 copies
Cracker Jackson (1985) 455 copies
Keeper of the Doves (2002) 363 copies
The Cartoonist (1979) 316 copies
The Seven Treasure Hunts (1991) 306 copies
The TV Kid (1976) 298 copies
The SOS File (2004) 295 copies
The House of Wings (1600) 291 copies
The Computer Nut (1984) 283 copies
The Dark Stairs (1994) 265 copies
A Blossom Promise (1989) 262 copies
My Brother, Ant (1996) 262 copies
The Night Swimmers (1980) 248 copies
McMummy (1993) 236 copies
After the Goat Man (1974) 213 copies
The Golly Sisters Ride Again (1994) 206 copies
My Dog, My Hero (2000) 201 copies
Dead Letter (1996) 182 copies
Two Thousand Pound Goldfish (1982) 174 copies
Goodbye, Chicken Little (1979) 173 copies
Beans on the Roof (1988) 166 copies
The Moon and I (1991) 155 copies
Coast to Coast (1992) 144 copies
Disappearing Acts (1998) 110 copies
Tarot Says Beware (1995) 107 copies
Ant Plays Bear (1997) 106 copies
Me Tarzan (2000) 105 copies
Bingo Brown, Gypsy Lover (1600) 98 copies
The winged colt of Casa Mia (1973) 93 copies
The Glory Girl (1750) 92 copies
Death's Door (1997) 79 copies
Little Horse (2002) 75 copies
Rama the Gypsy Cat (1966) 62 copies
The Black Tower (2006) 56 copies
Go and Hush the Baby (1971) 46 copies
King of Murder (2006) 44 copies
Boo's Dinosaur (2006) 34 copies
Little Horse on His Own (2004) 34 copies
The Joy Boys (1996) 32 copies
The Lace Snail (1975) 20 copies
Boo's Surprise (2009) 19 copies
Growing Up Stories (1995) — Contributor; Editor — 10 copies
Top Teen Stories (2004) — Editor; Contributor — 6 copies
The dancing camel (1965) 4 copies
Clementine (1962) 4 copies
Completely Wild Stories (1998) 3 copies
Bingo! (1989) 3 copies
The Groober (1967) 2 copies
A Bean Birthday (1996) 2 copies
Classic Teen Stories (1999) 1 copy
Best of Betsy Byars (1985) 1 copy

Associated Works


4.9 (35) adventure (86) animals (142) chapter book (282) children (105) children's (303) children's books (37) children's fiction (97) children's literature (92) disabilities (53) dogs (129) early reader (48) easy reader (51) F (42) family (274) fiction (1,079) friendship (83) Grade 4 (38) grade 5 (35) historical fiction (78) humor (74) juvenile (117) juvenile fiction (109) kids (42) mystery (169) Newbery (110) Newbery Medal (148) novel (48) read (88) realistic (35) realistic fiction (494) S (40) school (52) series (41) siblings (85) to-read (96) tornadoes (51) U (41) YA (71) young adult (106)

Common Knowledge




A great book to teach kids not to watch a lot of tv and to focus on the real world.
skhan82 | 1 other review | Apr 11, 2024 |
The summer she turns fourteen, Sara feels upset and dissatisfied about almost everything. Exasperated by her family. Disgruntled that her older sister is pretty and popular, and she’s not. Frustrated with her younger brother, who is mentally disabled and non-verbal. She loves him, but gets impatient sometimes. In this short novel that takes place over little more than twenty-four hours, Sara argues with her sister, frets about her hair, despairs over the color of her shoes, and is angry at a boy from school who supposedly stole her brother Charlie’s watch. It’s one of his few treasured possessions, that brings him calm when he listens to the second hand ticking. Then some swans fly over town and land on the lake near their house. Sara takes Charlie to see them. He is captivated by their beauty and grace, so quietly gliding on the still dark water. It’s hard for Sara to drag him away when it’s time to go home. Later that night, Charlie goes missing. Sara is sure he went back alone to see the swans on the lake, but nobody can find him. In the tense, anxious search for her brother, Sara realizes that all the other things she’d been upset about don’t really matter. (And that boy she was angry with turns out the be kind and helpful, not a thief). Things are looking up on the final pages. It does have a happy ending.

This book won a Newberry Award. I’m pretty sure I read it a long time ago, some parts felt very familiar to me. It does feel quite dated, the dialog in particular is so seventies feeling. But still a very good read.
… (more)
jeane | 65 other reviews | Mar 18, 2024 |
6.5/10, a rather monotonous book that doesn't capture my attention, maybe it's the writing style.
Law_Books600 | 20 other reviews | Nov 3, 2023 |
Fun read about a dysfunctional family with plenty of plot for an adult to enjoy. I finished it in one sitting by staying up late...for me, that's a compliment.
fuzzi | 3 other reviews | Oct 31, 2023 |



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Sue Truesdell Illustrator
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Jacqueline Rogers Illustrator
Doron Ben-Ami Illustrator
Erik Brooks Illustrator
Gail Owens Illustrator
Arthur Howard Illustrator
Loren Long Illustrator
Marc Simont Illustrator
David McPhail Illustrator
Emily A. McCully Illustrator
Mrs. Ewing Contributor
Roald Dahl Contributor
Kevin Major Contributor
Marjorie Sharmat Contributor
John Steinbeck Contributor
Ann Cameron Contributor
Jane Gardam Contributor
L. M. Montgomery Contributor
Graham Greene Contributor
Judy Blume Contributor
Sue Townsend Contributor
Cynthia Rylant Contributor
Lynne Reid Banks Contributor
Richard Parker Contributor
Robert Cormier Contributor
William Saroyan Contributor
Jean Little Contributor
Ethel Turner Contributor
Jessamyn West Contributor
Elizabeth Winthrop Contributor
Philippa Pearce Contributor
V. S. Pritchett Contributor
Laurence Lasky Contributor
Nina Bawden Contributor
Jean Webster Contributor
Paul Zindel Contributor
Pirkko Lokka Translator
Machteld Slagt Translator
Linda Benson Cover artist
Rita Gardner Narrator
Robert Grossman Illustrator
Dan Krall Cover Design
Gareth Floyd Illustrator
Kerry Shale Narrator
Richard Cuffari Illustrator
Blain Fairman Narrator
Quentin Blake Cover illustration
Ronald Himler Illustrator
Thé Tjong-Khing Illustrator
Robert Geary Illustrator
Ursula Dotzler Translator


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