Betsy Franco, Children's Book Author/Actor

About the Author

My son Tom grew up and became an artist. He and I are speaking about the novel NAKED, which I wrote and he illustrated, on May 21 at 7 pm at Village House of Books in Los Gatos. Hope you can join us!

From my short film

Photo from Old School Confessions: Then & Now. The film includes real confessions from contemporary high school students.

For 3 months now, I've been directing my acting-on-film students in a short film, Old School Confessions, Then & Now. It's showing only once, at this cool event honoring Tobias Wolff and his novel Old School. May 7 at 8 p.m. You're invited!

NEXT "NAKED" SIGNING: Walnut Creek Library Authors Under the Stars,March 8, 6:30 p.m. See WCLibrary.org.

I'm thrilled to tell you that I sold my novel NAKED to Tyrus Books. This is my first novel for an adult audience.

Tyrus describes NAKED as "The Time Traveler's Wife" meets "Midnight in Paris." It will be out November 2013.

My son Tom Franco created the image for the cover and interior drawings of sculptures by Rodin and Camille Claudel. Drawing copyright Tom Franco 2013.

See Future Books/Events on this site for signing dates. Hope to see you there.

"The Time Traveler's Wife meets Midnight in Paris"
--San Jose Mercury News
"a seamless blend of fiction, biography, and contemporary culture"
-- Publisher's Weekly

You're invited to my latest production, April 25 and 26. I'm having a great time acting in one of the one-acts.

I loved writing the questions in this journal for parents and children ages roughly four to ten to share the evolution of their thoughts, feelings, and dreams over three years. Also great for kids who want to keep a time capsule of their own whimsical thoughts and serious ideas about the world.

My short with Vin Misra, FACEOFF: TYRANNY VS RESISTANCE, is in the Palo Alto International Film Festival on September 28 at 6:30 p.m. I'm very excited. Here's the new poster. See the links below the poster to buy tickets and read a description.

My new book on amazon. Help spread the word to teen actors and drama teachers. www.21monologues.com

Are you looking for a 1 to 2 minute monologue, or do you know someone who is? I wrote the monologues, James filmed them for an art installation, and Tom designed the cover.

Teens in high school and college have already landed parts using the pieces! Perfect for a holiday gift!

The Teen Arts Council produced three successful staged readings of my new play, "Irrepressible," at the Palo Alto Children's Theatre.

"Breakfast Club meets A Chorus Line" is how I describe it.

Check out my new page: "Guide, Metamorphosis" is a reader's guide to the novel, Metamorphosis, Junior Year. If you're interested in performing the play, just contact me. Photos from the play are included on the new page.


Double Play! is out! "With both our knees/we grip the bars./We're upside-downside circus stars.
2 knees + 2 knees = 4 knees"

"Franco's rhymes swing effortlessly along with the animals' play..." - Publisher's Weekly

My blog has some photos from events on Oscars' weekend. Also some photos of my play, METAMORPHOSIS, JUNIOR YEAR, which premiered at the Palo Alto Children's Theatre.

Dog-lover alert: A Dazzling Display of Dogs is out.
Starred review in School Library Journal: "This follow-up to A Curious Collection of Cats (Tricycle, 2009) is dazzling indeed. Each of the 34 poems features a different animal, most of them engaged in true dog behavior. Overall, a delight for kids, their adults, and maybe even their beloved canine companions"

The Palo Alto Children's Theater is putting on a play of my novel, Metamorphosis, Junior Year, in March 2011. Currently, I'm getting feedback from the teens who are workshopping scenes from the play I wrote and creating animated visuals of my son Tom's drawings.

As an added bonus, my son James is producing the documentary of the making of the play. I love teens, and the whole thing is very dynamic and collaborative. James even mentioned the novel on Jay Leno--they got some good laughs out of it.

The comedy troupe I belong to, Suburban Squirrel, finished filming our sketches in front of a live audience. I wrote and acted in two of the sketches. The laughing brought it to a new level.

I had a peak experience acting with my son James on General Hospital. Thank goodness I've been taking classes in acting on both stage and film at Stanford Continuing Ed. for six years.

When A Curious Collection of Cats was announced as an honor winner for the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award this year, I couldn't have be more surprised and thrilled. It certainly wouldn't have happened without my illustrator Michael Wertz!

More fun news: Zero Is the Leaves on the Tree was a nominee for the Northern California Book Awards, and...it won the Northern California Independent Booksellers Award for best illustrated children's book in 2009. My illustrator is Shino Arihara!

My first young adult novel, METAMORPHOSIS, JUNIOR YEAR,is out from Candlewick Press. My sculptor son Tom is the illustrator, and my actor sons, James and Dave, read the audio version!

"The cool teen narrator, Ovid, may be on Facebook or texting his high-school friends in northern California, but he also recognizes the parallels between his life and classical mythology..." - Booklist

"Ovid captures it all in his private notebook filled with prose entries in realistic teenspeak, beautifully crafted poems that provide a back story and surreal black-line illustrations that the author's son reworked from his own high-school notebooks..." - Kirkus Review

Tom Franco's illustration for the chapter called "Slam Dunk" in my YA novel, Metamorphosis, © 2009 Tom Franco

The San Francisco Chronicle ran a wonderful article about my YA novel, Metamorphosis, Junior Year and how all three of my sons collaborated on it.


My son Tom and I are going to host more open mics for teens. I'll keep you posted. We had a wonderful event and open mic at Hicklebee's Books.

Take a look at more of my picture books and poetry collections below...

A Curious Collection of Cat was inspired by my cat muses, Frida and Jada.

Review from Fuse8, School Library Journal said:

"Thirty-two poems cover every aspect of all things cat. From their tendency to attack feet from within paper bags to their dislike of leashes to their less than brave encounters with the native squirrel population...

Complementing her efforts is debut illustrator Michael Wertz who captures perfectly not only the feline physique and manner, but also its attitude, quirks, and personality.

To my mind, Franco really has a keen sense of how to make a poem interesting and like nothing you’ve ever encountered in a children’s poetry book before."

In the ABC Catalog of best books of 2009, chosen by independent booksellers


This book is fun to read aloud because it's school poems for two voices.

"...fresh and dynamic...steady rhythm and a sense of humor...playful tone." --Horn Book

"A cheeky romp through elementary school children's academic and social lives..." --Kirkus

On Booklist's list of lasting books of 2009

"In this evocative picture book, Franco guides readers through one possible food chain..." Horn Book

"Franco's words scan with an irresistible beat that will invite participation..." Booklist

"Zero is...the sound of snowflakes landing on your mitten. 0 sounds." "Zero is...the kites in the sky once the wind stops blowing. 0 kites." Using these evocative examples from children's everyday experiences throughout the seasons, Franco explores the concept of zero...

Like Franco's Mathematickles, this is another fine addition to the growing number of books that make math concepts both enjoyable and memorable."
- School Library Journal

"Zero is absolutely brilliant!" - Valerie Lewis, Hicklebee's Bookstore

On Kirkus' list of best books of 2009

NEWS:
I've been painstakingly revising my latest YA novel. Can't tell you the subject yet.

I've gotten into comedy these days--writing and acting in SNL-type sketches with a comedy troupe, Suburban Squirrel, that's an offshoot from my Stanford drama class. My son James even mentioned us on Letterman--twice! We've given two performances, and we're hoping to eventually be online. And...Judd Apatow's crew came over to film a comic video I wrote. It was so much fun, I'm moving to LA to become an actor...just kidding. But, honestly, it did get me a Hollywood audtion, which James also mentioned on Letterman. Some people have asked about that: I didn't get the part but had an amazing time doing it.

My latest classes have been in Acting on Film with Marty Pistone at Stanford and Improv with Melanie Chartoff. They both help me with my writing.

ABOUT ME:
I've written over eighty books for children and young adults—picture books, poetry collections, and nonfiction. I also write young adult novels and compile anthologies of teenage writing from across the country and around the world. I particularly love to show how exciting, sassy, and creative math can be, and how wise, honest, and insightful teenagers can be. I live in Palo Alto, California, with my husband Douglas. We have three sons, James, Thomas, and Dave--two actor/​writers and a sculptor/​illustrator.

My publishers include Candlewick Press, Margaret K. McElderry/​Simon & Schuster, Tricycle Press, Scholastic, Harcourt, Grolier Children's Press, and Charles E. Tuttle. See featured books on this Web site. Other books include:

Conversations with a Poet, Richard C. Owen Publishers, consists of my personal philosophy about writing and teaching poetry, along with samples and guidelines for writing 16 poetry forms "...must-have 21st century pathway to poetry..." Lee Bennett Hopkins
See www.rcowen.com for ordering. (see image to left)

Night Is Gone, Day Is Still Coming, stories and poems by American Indian teenagers and young adults, Candlewick Press

Math Poetry, Goodyear Books, Arizona Book Award for best educational book

My Pinkie Finger, Grolier Children's Press

Counting Caterpillars and Other Math Poems, Scholastic

See www.booksense.com and www.amazon.com for a more complete listing.

For school visits, e-mail franco.betsy@​gmail.com.

"Betsy Franco inspires trust in the various people she meets in the course of her work as writer, poet, and anthologist."
Candlewick Press


"very gifted and inspirational as a teacher of young children..."
El Carmelo Elementary School


"You were a big hit with my students."
"I really liked it when you said you like working with teens."
"You were very inspiring and your dedication to art is a great influence to me with my music."
Los Altos High School


"It was very inspirational...I found it helpful because I'm an artistic person and I plan to live my life in an artistic way."
Stephanie, Palo Alto High School

Selected Books

1.YA novel
Forthcoming: illustrated by Tom Franco, audio version by James and Dave Franco
2. poetry
"An amazing collection...cover(s) all things cat."
--Booklife
4. teen-written anthology
"The vertigo-inducing realm of romantic love is captured in this unforgettable collection..."
3. Picture book
"Franco's spirited poems...Jenkins' masterful collage work."
--Booklist, starred review
6. picture book
"Celebrate the free concert that birds perform..."
--Publisher's Weekly, starred review
7. picture book
"Word lovers might stand a better chance of becoming math lovers..."
-Horn Book, starred review
8. children's poetry
"the bouncy, humorous poems include an amazing variety of math concepts ...delivered with a light touch"
--Kirkus Review
5. teen-written poetry anthologies
"...honest, raw and sometimes tender selections..."
-School Library Journal