Books by Jeanne Betancourt

Released: March 1, 2009

When three of her wishes come true on her birthday, eight-year-old Ava Tree is sure she has the wishing power. But her power doesn't extend to bringing her parents, dead two years now, back to life. Here, the writer of The Pony Pals offers a sympathetic stand-alone story about coping with loss. Ava lives with her grown brother, Jack, whose efforts to keep her childhood normal and to be the family she needs are laudable. The first-person narration moves smoothly through the events of three days: her birthday party, a pet show and a visit to the swimming pool with friends. Young readers will find simple sentences, straightforward chronology and Dominguez's black-and-white illustrations to reinforce and break up the text, but Betancourt slips in some narrative challenge, leaving them to wonder: Does Ava really have such power or is it all coincidence? This sophistication, Ava's unusual situation and the realistic depiction of young people carrying on after a terrible loss set this book above the usual chapter-book fare. (Fiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
MY NAME IS BRAIN/BRIAN by Jeanne Betancourt
Released: March 1, 1993

Brian starts school hoping to do better this year, only to mess up by misspelling his own name the first day. Fortunately, his no-nonsense sixth-grade teacher is different from last year's pushover: not only does he spot Brian's previously undiagnosed dyslexia and arrange for an effective educational plan, but he's obviously an unsuitable butt for the pranks Brian and his three pals have projected for their ``Jokers' Club'' competition. Betancourt's profile of Brian's family is prototypical, if mostly plausible: his ``learning difference'' is in its third generation, but unsympathetic Dad (a carpenter) persists in thinking that Brian simply doesn't work hard enough. Meanwhile, the unusually intelligent Brian is lucky enough to be offered a fine combination of tutoring and mainstreaming with a gifted and resourceful teacher. He gets through the opprobrium associated with his new status with relative ease, begins to build on his real interests with a class project, and—in some pleasantly suspenseful exchanges—gets the better of his two less savory friends and comes to appreciate the third, plus an erstwhile enemy. Packaged with earnest intent and a somewhat pat outcome, but still a skillfully structured, entertaining story; Brian himself, struggling to redefine himself in terms of his newly discovered potential, is drawn with real insight. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
KATE'S TURN by Jeanne Betancourt
Released: March 1, 1992

Kate's scholarship to ballet school in N.Y.C. seems like the culmination of all her hard work, the launching of dreams come true; but when the rigors of a dancer's life are made clear to her, she returns home to be (she hopes) a normal high-school student. Betancourt's tale bristles with the realistic details balletomanes adore—props, pressures, and pains—but it falters in the absence of a strong plot. At first, Kate appears to be serenely determined; while she's concerned about potential hardships, her resolve is unwavering. Later, that resolve simply dissipates without a dramatic turning point or much explanation. Ultimately, her role is that of an observer of a wonderful cast of ``real'' dancers. More a glimpse of ballet life than the story of one ballerina. (Fiction. 10+) Read full book review >