Books by Betty Ren Wright

THE BLIZZARD by Betty Ren Wright
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

When his cousins call to say they can't make Billy's birthday because of all the snow, he's sorely disappointed and wishes he had a July birthday like his sister. Just like any other ordinary day, the two walk to their one-room schoolhouse. Coal gets shoveled into the stove, the lamps get filled, and the children learn their lessons. Then a blizzard hits and Mr. Carter arrives to say the road is filled with snow. When faced with this news, Miss Bailey decides to take all the children to Billy and Mae's house, the only one close enough to walk to in the storm. Once there, the children all pitch in to do the chores and get the food ready. A snowball fight and songfest are the perfect way to round out the evening—along with some birthday cake. Himler's watercolor illustrations are the perfect medium for portraying the time period's furniture, household goods, and clothing. A feel-good story of neighbor helping neighbor, and a great way to learn a bit about rural life before automobiles. (Picture book. 4-9)Read full book review >
CRANDALLS’ CASTLE by Betty Ren Wright
Released: April 15, 2003

For seven years—since her mother's death—Sophia has been shuffled around. Now she finds herself amid a clamorous brood of distant relations, the Crandalls. Even the house across the street contains cousins—in particular Charli. Though the Crandalls are welcoming, Sophia senses, with her ability to see into the future, that Will Crandall means trouble. He reveals his plan to buy and renovate the old Castle, crumbling and reputedly haunted, and turn it into a bed and breakfast. Charli explores the Castle and sees the terrorizing shadow of a cradle, followed later by swirling apparitions, and a screaming infant. The ghost story is engrossing enough, but there are also two intriguing subplots. Charli struggles to come to terms with her mother's new marriage, while Sophia lives in constant fear of being relocated yet again. The satisfying ending indicates that when it comes to family, each member is integral. This mistress of spooky once again delivers a thought-provoking thriller. (Fiction. 10-14)Read full book review >
THE MOONLIGHT MAN by Betty Ren Wright
Released: Feb. 1, 2000

As in some of the author's previous books, this one involves a capable young woman pitted against an angry ghost that has unresolved issues. Jenny, 15, her widower father, and younger sister have moved for the fifth time in seven years to a quaint, creepy little clearing where theirs is one of only five homes. Almost at once the haunting begins when shadowy specters (a man and a little dog) hover in the dusk on their front porch. Other eerie incidents occur every day and as Jenny deciphers the mystery, she discovers a dark secret about her crabby elderly neighbors who are getting the worst of the ghost's wrath. Afraid it will lead to another move, Jenny tells her father nothing of her discovery; instead she tries to befriend the new neighbor, a talented violin player in whose basement are heard disconsolate sobs. As the story heads for the gripping climax, Jenny learns she has some talent of her own, including bravery and intelligence. This absorbing novel has truly frightening moments, but readers will feel safe in the hands of its skillful author. A spooky read for a rainy night. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
PET DETECTIVES by Betty Ren Wright
Released: March 1, 1999

Policeman Jack's cat and dog team, Kitty and Belle, are an unusual crime-busting duo: Kitty is a shrewd mouser, while lazy Belle would rather sleep. When a wily burglar picks the lock and breaks into Policeman Jack's house, Kitty jumps on top of the thief's head, while Belle rouses from a nap to growl and chase the burglar out the door. They are rewarded with a TV appearance on the nightly news. In a tale told entirely in verse, the entrance of the burglar functions more as a device to break up the monotony than for building suspense or creating comedy. O'Malley saves the day with his portraits of the highly personable pets, including one picture of the appropriately sleepy Belle, bloodshot eye open amidst folds of fur. (Picture book. 4-7) Read full book review >
TOO MANY SECRETS by Betty Ren Wright
Released: Aug. 1, 1997

Is there a burglar in Miss Beane's house? The elderly woman fell while investigating noises in her home, and is hospitalized. Nine-year-old Chad, who has always wanted a dog, is only too happy to take care of her Labrador retriever, Benson, while she recovers; a neighbor, Mrs. Keck, temporarily adopts Miss Beane's parrot, Baby. While searching Miss Beane's house for Benson's favorite toy, Chad and his friend Jeannie hear sounds and resolve to find out who the burglar is. Baby provides a clue, and Chad decides that the prowler is Cap Colby, an odd, older boy from the neighborhood. After all of the red herrings are disposed of, however, Cap helps Chad and Jeannie apprehend the real burglar. Wright (Haunted Summer, 1996, etc.) offers readers an intriguing mystery, an interesting subplot, and believable characters, but Benson steals every scene he's in. (Fiction. 7-11) Read full book review >
HAUNTED SUMMER by Betty Ren Wright
Released: May 1, 1996

A pedestrian and formulaic ghost story, entirely lacking in chills. After Abby receives an antique music box as a gift, her absurdly timid baby-sitter, Hannah, says that the ghost of an angry young woman is coming after it. Abby believes her and, after some perfunctory investigation, discovers the dark history of the box. Abby and Hannah decide to bury the music box at the grave of the young woman to end the haunting. The setting is vague, the writing flat, and the book hardly seems like the work of the author of Out of the Dark (1995). Wright's fans will be disappointed, and so will browsers drawn in by the spooky title. (Fiction. 7-11) Read full book review >
OUT OF THE DARK by Betty Ren Wright
Released: Jan. 1, 1995

A premier author of reliable ghost stories offers this eerie tale, built on some tried and true elements: recurrent nightmares, a sinister old schoolhouse, family secrets, parallels between past and present, old diaries, and red herrings. Jessica, 12, is happy to move into her grandmother's house in the elderly woman's absence, until a tall, furious-looking woman starts to haunt her dreams. There's a romance, too, and if it all seems complex and remote, it's of immediate concern to the ghost, who inexplicably menaces Jessica wherever she goes and in a stormy climax, traps her in a storage chamber under the abandoned school. Wright saves a few surprises for the end and sends readers a homily about the dangers of uncontrolled anger. Although some of the details seem contrived, the suspenseful plot, sturdy cast and particularly threatening ghost will pull readers through this page- turner. (Fiction. 10-13) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1993

Again, Wright deftly combines an old-fashioned ghost story with a modern family dilemma. Gwen Maxwell, 12, feels as though the bottom has fallen out of her life—for the second time. Five years ago, after her parents died in a car accident, she came to live with loving Great-aunt Mary in Winfield, Wisconsin. Now Aunt Mary has also died and, except for a much older brother whose concern for her welfare is little more than perfunctory, Gwen is alone again. Enter kindly Dena Mercy and her family, with plenty of room for a foster child at beautiful Mercy Manor. Inconveniently, Gwen's presence at the farm stirs up ghosts of Dena's past, jeopardizing Gwen's tenure with her newfound home. Purely for her own sense of self-esteem, Gwen takes on the lonely task of persuading her foster mother to acknowledge a long-ago family murder. Gwen succeeds; and despite the tumult wrought in the household, we know she'll be welcome to stay. A delightful juxtaposition of golden summer days and clammy haunted nights to warm and chill the reader. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
Released: April 15, 1993

Martin and his little brother Peter like the little hilltop cabin where they move after Dad loses his job—until they begin to hear eerie laughter in their room at night. It's the ghost of Tom Buffle, who used to live there: lonely, he's looking for companionship, but the boys, especially Peter, are too scared to oblige. Meanwhile, they've reluctantly settled for nice middle- sized Rosie instead of the huge dog they'd hoped for, and are trying to tame a sheepdog that occasionally wanders by. Turns out the sheepdog's a ghost, too, and, once matched up, both ghosts- -and the relieved boys—are happy. Wright paints the situation with a broad brush, with parents strictly from stock; but the boys' relationship is nicely drawn and their dialogue lively and believable, while Ritz's detailed, realistic full-page drawings are unusually warm and appealing. Likable and accessible: good popular fare. (Fiction. 7-10) Read full book review >
A GHOST IN THE HOUSE by Betty Ren Wright
Released: Nov. 1, 1991

Sarah's joy in a promising new life is threatened when her father loses his first good job. The family's financial crisis is somewhat alleviated by having a great-aunt come to live with them—with the result that Sarah must give up her dream bedroom and stay with crotchety Aunt Margaret while both parents are at work. Difficulties increase as strange events begin to occur and Sarah's mother refuses to consider Sarah's suggestion that there is a ghost, implying that Sarah is lying, and forcing her and Aunt Margaret to cope alone with the escalating violence of a malevolent spirit that turns out to be from Aunt Margaret's youth. Afraid that she too will be doubted, Aunt Margaret keeps her own counsel, resolving to return to her nursing home. In a final hair-raising encounter, Sarah helps rout the ghost, which also leads to everyone's realization that they truly are a family. Many of the motifs here will be comfortingly familiar to Wright's fans: a successful meld of family living and the satisfyingly scary supernatural. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
THE CAT NEXT DOOR by Betty Ren Wright
Released: Sept. 15, 1991

A little girl whose treasured memories of Grandma include sharing the trust of the shy cat that visited them on the dock at their summer home is comforted, the summer after Grandma's death, to find that the cat still comes—this time, with two new kittens. The text's sensitive understatement is nicely reflected in Owens's intimate points of view and soft colors. A well- structured, comforting story. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
THE GHOST OF ERNIE P. by Betty Ren Wright
Released: Oct. 15, 1990

Though he remembers Ernie as a minor bully and a major pest (Ernie died in a fall from a slide while he was teasing younger kids), Jeff tries to be tactful when everyone assumes that he's mourning his best friend. Meanwhile, Ernie is still an unpleasant presence from beyond the grave, sending bolts of lightning when he's displeased and manipulating Jeff into working on his mysterious "TSP" (top secret project)—which turns out to involve a witch who is living locally in disguise. Jeff finally realizes that the witch caused Ernie's demise; he manages to get rid of the ghost by laughing at it, but the witch is a tougher customer: she traps Jeff and loyal best friend Art, almost succeeding in doing them in. Not exceptional, but briskly written and spooky enough to hold attention; nice Jeff's earnest attempts to get things back to normal make a good foil to the fantasy. Read full book review >