HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Not-Just-Anybody Family
Author: Betsy Byars
Illustrator: Jacqueline Rigers
Publisher: Yearling Books, republished 1987
ISBN-13: 978-0385294430 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0385294433 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0440459514 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0440459516 Paperback
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 9 – 12 and up
Rating: *** 3 stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Byars, Betsy. The Not-Just-Anybody Family (published in 1986 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Delacourte Press, 1 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, New York City, NY 10017). Seven year old Junior Blossom lives with his rodeo rider mother Vicki, teenaged sister Maggie, eleven year old brother Vernon (Vern), 72 year old grandfather Alexander or “Pap,” and their dog Mud, on a farm outside of Alderson which is near I-85. The children’s father, Cotton, was also a rodeo rider but had died in a rodeo accident four years previously. When Junior crouches on the barn roof with cloth wings tied to his arms in an attempt to fly, he sees a police car approaching the farm in a cloud of dust and yells “Police!” Maggie and Vern run into the woods, while Junior falls and ends up in the hospital with two broken legs.
Meanwhile Pap is in the city jail, having been arrested for disturbing the peace after his pickup truck accidentally dumps 2,147 beer and soda cans (worth $107.35) on Spring Street. And Mud runs away. With their mother out of town on the rodeo circuit, Maggie and Vern must try to find a way to rescue Pap and Junior. So Vern decides to break into the jail. What will happen to him? Does Pap end up being sentenced to a jail term? And can they ever find Mud? There is a certain amount of humor in the story, and while nothing really objectionable may be noted, I personally found the plot a little annoying at times. Pap is said to have “cussed,” but no cuss words are actually found, although Mom does use the terms “My Lord” and “Oh Lord” as interjections.
Also a reference to a woman adjusting her brassiere occurs. The most questionable item is that Pap makes booze in the basement so that there is always the familiar smell of warm, fermenting mash. A little bit of meanness is shown between children. At the same time, some rather touching scenes also take place, and it is clear that the Blossoms, despite their faults and foibles, do love one another. Betsy Cromer Byars (born August 7, 1928) is an American author of children’s books. Her novel Summer of the Swans won the 1971 Newbery Medal. There are four more volumes in the “Blossom Family” series. The next one is entitled The Blossoms Meet the Vulture Lady (1986).