Betsy Franco, Children's Book Author/Actor

Tom and I speaking at Teenquake

Metamorphosis, Junior Year



Here are two excerpts from Ovid's journal:

adventures in cyberspace

Every time I go to Living Skills, I wish I'd signed up for the online version. You can do that for some classes at Lambert now. 'Course then I'd miss watching Sophie operate. She sits there, thin blonde hair and bangs framing her round face, serious creases between her eyebrows—the conscientious student. But behind a book or under the desk, she's texting faster than anyone else at school.
Lately they've been some version of: calebs so cool I owe u ovid
Actually, Caleb's so uncool, such a geek, that he's almost cool. I've known him since this science/​computer-geek camp my mom signed me up for one summer. He was into robotics even back then. "Go ask Caleb," the counselors would say to the kids with the complicated questions.
Instead of the usual this morning, Sophie just messaged me later. That night she'd practically written one of those Japanese cell phone novels by the time she finished texting me.

Sophie and Caleb AKA Psyche and Cupid

For Sophie (sn allthumbs44)
when Caleb (sn robogeek01)
entered the nerds-only chat room,
it was cyberlove at first site.

He admitted he was a virtual-homosapien,
spent all his awake hours tunneling around
the innards of his pc, building tiny robots,
playing videogames,
so much that his brother threatened to piss on Caleb's computer.

Sophie admitted it, too.
(Not about the pissing—
about the videogames.)

Caleb admitted his dog Wasp was his best friend.
Sophie fessed up to a similar relationship
with her cat Snorz.

He admitted he was technically a virgin
and that he was in love with sci-fi and fractals.
Her, too. (re: the technical virginity)

They played virtual chess every night.
She won 63% of the time.

Then they arranged to meet on Tuesday.
A half hour after school let out.
At the mall.
Her with a red cap.
Him with a blue cap.

She got there early—dizzy, disoriented.
She stared into a store window filled with bony mannequins.
Then she saw his reflection in the glass,
pulling off his blue cap so fast
he knocked the glasses off his gaunt face.
He'd seen her from behind!
He was obviously into skinny chicks.

She ran home,
back into hiding,
back into the comfort of cyberspace.
Morphed into anonymity, invisibility.

When she bumped into him
in a chat room a week later,
he admitted he'd split that Tuesday
because he knew his real looks, his real self
would ruin everything.

So they started up where they'd left off,
rebonded online only
and kept it virtual.
It was the best thing
they'd ever had going for them.


Perfect Pitch

The minute me, my friend Jack, and his girlfriend walked into the Abyss, this underage club, I knew I was in one of my envious moods. Through the dark of the room, I could see Orpheus (that's what I call him now—lyre, saxophone, what's the difference?) warming up with his band, his jet black hair under the spotlight. He came over, all smiles, and led us to a table near the front.
"He's got perfect pitch," Jack laughed, after Orpheus hopped back onstage. "Someone farted in math the other day and he yells out 'B flat!'"
When the gig started, Orpheus was so damn smooth on the tenor sax, I could see all the girls at the nearby tables leaning forward. By the time he got to his killer rendition of "Soul Eyes," he really had 'em going.
I mean, Jesus, Orpheus got a girlfriend in record time, right after he moved here to northern California from Chicago, last spring. Dalia, no less, "Miss Independent." I wish he'd bottle what he's got with girls—I'd buy a couple cases. Course, so much of it's tied up with his music. It seems like he connects with the girls through his eyes when he's playing.
But, he's not a player. He's real into his girlfriend Dalia. I wouldn't be surprised to see him serenading her under a window. And he'd go to Hell and back for her. All the way. No question.


Orpheus and Dalia

Doesn't the rain need the clouds?
Doesn't the ocean need the sand?
Doesn't the wind need the sky?

That's how Orpheus needed Dalia.
And Dalia liked it fine
until she stopped liking it.

"I love you, Orpheus,
like the lightning loves the thunder,
like the mountain loves its trees
but it'll never work between us
if you don't give me some fucking space.

Give me some space
and we'll be great again.
Just prove you can do it.
Just for a few weeks."

Orpheus didn't call her
didn't msg her text
didn't text her e-mail
didn't find her between classes

until he felt like
rain without a cloud
sand without an ocean
wind with no sky to blow around in

and he sent her a text
just once
just that once
"miss u”

And it was over.

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