Betsy Franco

Claire Kirch

Betsy Franco is the author of many books, including Zero Is the Leaves on the Tree and A Dazzling Display of Dogs. She lives in northern California.


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag

What’s your favorite line from a book?

From Shel Silverstein’s “Listen to the Mustn’ts”:

Then listen close to me–
Anything can happen, child,
ANTHING can be

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

Authors: Toni Morrison, my son James Franco, visual poet Bob Grumman,
Author/Illustrators: A Snowy Day by Ezra Keats, Shel Silverstein’s poetry collections, The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Illustrator: My son Tom Franco created the artwork and covers for my novels, Naked and Metamorphosis, Junior Year. He is my favorite illustrator.

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

I was a painter, having been an art major at Stanford, but when I had my first two sons, I couldn’t set up my paints anymore because they were so active and mischievous. I needed to be creative to feel sane, to feel connected to myself, so as an experiment, I switched all my creative energy to writing, and it worked.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

Reach for your dreams. Someone in every generation gets to be an author or illustrator. Why not you? It takes hard work and stubbornness, and you have to be as creative about making it work as a business as you are about your art. Getting a part time job to pay expenses is a good way to go because then you’re not too tired to do your art.