Roadsouls-cvr-hr copy


Finalist, 2017 World Fantasy Award

“Say yes to the Roadsouls, and you can’t unsay it.”

Timid Duuni has spent her life as abused and guarded property. Blind, arrogant Raím is determined to be again what he once was: hunter, lover, young lord of the earth. Desperate to escape their lives, the two lift up their hands to the passing Roadsoul caravan, and are—literally—flung together naked. Each of them soon learns that saying “yes” to the Roadsouls is a commitment that can’t be reversed. Nothing is as it was. Lost to their old lives, hating each other, they are swept out of their cruel old certainties into an unknown, unknowable, ever-changing world of journey and carnival, artists and wrestlers and thieves. Behind them, inexorable, pads a lion. Inexorable, too, is their inevitable encounter with it—an encounter that will change everything.

“If you long for a fantasy world that your senses could live in, and that isn’t full of scheming nobility, cynical warriors, mass hatreds, and magic as a weapon, read this book.”    Suzy McKee Charnas, author of The Vampire Tapestry and Dorothea Dreams

“Betsy James’ dual creative lives as artist and writer enable her to create an elegant variation on the classic hero’s journey.”   Jane Lindskold, author of The Firekeeper Saga

Listening at the Gate

New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age
Tiptree Award Honor Book
Starred review, School Library Journal
Atheneum 2006

As the world they know is falling apart, seventeen-year-old Kat and the mysterious Nall set out on a journey that will take them beyond themselves and beyond the last boundary of all, to the Gate where the world is born.


Dark Heart cover

Dark Heart

Atheneum 2005

What if to be initiated as a woman you must face a wild bear? What if you fail? In love with two men, sixteen-year-old Kat has choices to make and a mountain to climb.


Long Night Dance cover

Long Night Dance

Voices of Youth Advocates Best Fantasy
Atheneum 2005

When fifteen-year-old Kat sings, she does not intend to call a wounded young seal-man out of the sea. Nor does she realize that the world she has summoned will challenge her to discover who she truly is.


Children’s Books

My Chair

chair scanNew York Public Library 100 titles for Reading and Sharing
International Reading Association Children’s Choice
Scholastic 2004

What is a chair for? A boat, a window, a swing, an airplane, a cave? What is your chair for?



tadpoles enhancedDutton Children’s Books 1999

Tadpoles grow—and so do siblings! Molly, a just-a-bit-jealous big sister, dips a few tadpoles from the pond. As she watches them grow legs and turn into frogs, she helps her baby brother learn to walk…and grows up a little herself.


The Mud Family

mudfamily enhancedOur Choice, Canadian Children’s Book Centre
Oxford University Press 1998

No rain falls, and the cornfield of this Anasazi family is withering. Without corn, the family must move away—so Sosi takes matters into her own hands.



flashlight enhancedJunior Library Guild selection
Knopf 1997

Everyone needs their own flashlight, especially if they’re sleeping over at grandpa’s house. Join Marie on her exploration of the mysterious nighttime world.


Blow Away Soon

blowaway enhancedChild Study Children’s Book Committee Book of the Year
Putnam 1995

Sophie lives with her nana in the very last house. She doesn’t like the wind—but Nana does. She takes Sophie on an expedition to make friends with that old lady wind and build her a blow-away-soon.


No More Animals! 

animals enhancedwith Lucia Monfried
Dutton Children’s Book 1995

Cats and mice and snakes and even a cicada—Charlie has plenty of animals. His mom says, “No more!” But how can he resist a blue-tailed skink? And when the whole menagerie gets loose in the house, how will he hide them from Mom?


Mary Ann

maryann enhancedSchool Library Journal Best Book
Child Study Children’s Book Committee Book of the Year
Dutton Children’s Books 1994

When Amy’s best friend, Mary Ann, moves away, Amy adopts a praying mantis and names it for her friend. She takes good care of it—and learns a lot about praying mantises—but she forgets one important task!


He Wakes Me

hewakesme enhancedOrchard Books 1991

What is a day in the life of your cat, from the moment he wakes you with his soft feet, through the day’s adventures and explorations, until his purr puts you to sleep?


Natalie Underneath

underneath enhancedDutton Children’s Books 1990

Everybody knows how nice it is to be underneath things—under baskets and blankets and chairs and sprinklers and sometimes even a plate of french fries—especially if you have an imagination.


The Dream Stair

dreamstair enhancedHarper and Row 1990

Up the stairs and down the stairs, a dream journey is safe and adventurous as long as you take your granny’s candle—and can tell her all about it in the morning.


The Fireplug is First Base 

fireplug enhancedwith P.J. Petersen
Dutton Children’s Books 1990

Flea is too small to play on the team. But just give him a chance…and though the ball ends up in some pretty strange places, he just may turn out to be an asset after all!


The Red Cloak

redcloak enhancedExhibited as Brave Little Girls,
National Museum for Women in the Arts
Chronicle Books 1989

When the elves steal her best friend Tam, Jan is determined to bring him back. In this retelling of the old folktale, “Tam Lin,” a brave little girl is determined to wrap a friend in love and hold on tight.


What’s That Room For?

whatsroomfor enhancedDutton Children’s Books 1988

A messy room is for cleaning up, isn’t it? But while you’re at it, you might find out what a window is for, and a book, and crayons, and…in the end you might even find out how to deal with a messy room!


Would you like to read the stories behind a few of my books? For children’s books, click here; for novels, click here.


All material on this site, both text and graphics, is © Betsy James, and may not be used commercially without her permission.

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Betsy James on Writing, Art, and Walking in the Desert

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