Reading Together: Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace

There was a run of Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace reviews just after the books were re-issued by Harper Perennial. Everything was Betsy-Tacy, Betsy-Tacy! Me? Who the heck is Betsy-Tacy? I somehow missed this series of books growing up. I decided to remedy that by buying the first book for my daughter.

In the first book, Betsy is five and meets Tacy for the first time when she moves in next door. They soon become known as Betsy-Tacy. The stories are set in Deep Valley, Minnesota in the later part of 19th and into the 20th century. The girls have many adventures in and around their neighbourhood of Hill Street and the "Big Hill" behind Betsy's house. Betsy is more adventurous and has a gift for storytelling while Tacy is bashful and shy.

This was a great introduction to early 20th century living for my daughter. She had a lot of questions. Where were the cars? Did they have electricity? Why won't you let me walk up the street by myself? She absolutely loved Betsy-Tacy and is annoyed that she doesn't have her best friend living next door. She was rather confused when the baby dies. In her world babies just don't die. She wanted to know why and how. I explained that back in those days life was different. Babies often got sick from diseases we either don't get now or have medications to make us better.

We've moved onto the other books in the series. We're on the fourth: Betsy-Tacy and Tib Go Downtown. My daughter isn't pleased that they are 12 years old now. She wanted them to stay her age forever, I think. The stories are getting longer and more complicated. I'll put off reading the next ones until she's older. By then, she'll probably be reading them on her own. I'll just have to sneak them away from her to read them myself.

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  1. I had this same experience when I introduced our younger boy to the Melendy books, favorites of mine as a child. The Melendy kids (during and right after WWII) have a great deal of freedom - the youngest even takes himself to the circus alone, at 10, riding the subway! -- and he thought that was magical.

    I agree with you - I think books about kids in earlier times, even L'Engle's in the 60s or whenever they were, give kids a real window they might not have otherwise. They give us a chance to talk about how things have changed, and they certainly HAVE changed, and raise an awareness that it might not be all gain, too.

    Thanks! :)

  2. Like you, I had no idea who Betsy and Tacy were when they started popping up all over the blogs last fall. Then I went ahead and read the first four. I need to read the other books now!

  3. I've been wanting to try these books too, glad to see they're worth seeking out!


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