I find so much good stuff by surfing Amazon! Having no “real” bookstore here and only a tiny library, it is one of my best ways for discovering great books.
One of our latest wonderful reads is Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace. I believe it is something of a classic although it was new to me. Hopefully I am not demonstrating my ignorance of classic children’s literature by recommending it, but recommend it I do!
The story revolves around two five year old neighbors, Betsy and Tacy, who become such inseparable friends, that the title of the book must be Betsy-Tacy (rather than Betsy and Tacy, get it?):
“Betsy’s brown braids went with Tacy’s red curls, Betsy’s plump legs with Tacy’s spindly ones…” (p.1)
Betsy is outgoing, Tacy is shy. But, after a rocky start, opposites do attract and the pair become a “unit” as suggested by the title.
The girls enjoy simple adventures, mostly involving a lot of imagination. It is all very sweet and innocent and charming. There is nothing that I could find to scare particularly sensitive readers. Even I enjoyed reading a bit further along every night before bedtime.
The only potentially upsetting moment is when Tacy’s baby sister dies of an illness. The episode is not really about Baby Bee, but the focus is on how Betsy sweetly comforts sad Tacy. It was well-handled and my rather sensitive children were not upset by it at all.
The author Maud Hart Lovelace was born in Mankato, Minnesota in 1892. This series of books is about her memories of her childhood, “…the happiest childhood a child could possibly know…” (quote from Maud Hart Lovelace, inside of back cover).
The author is Betsy, right down to the straight hair that wouldn’t curl. Her lifelong best friend Frances Kenney (known as “Bick” – baby-talk for “Brick” – due to her red curls) is the model for Tacy. The pair met at Maud’s 5th birthday party, just as Betsy and Tacy meet at Betsy’s 5th birthday.
The book has a very interesting section at the end about Maud Hart Lovelace and her life, complete with some photos of both her and “Bick.” For even more information, there is a Betsy-Tacy Society in Mankato with its own website: www.betsy-tacysociety.org. There are all kinds of Betsy-Tacy gifts to buy and events to attend that you can discover here.
Hmmm…..I guess these books are way more popular than I realized.
PS. We’ll be reading all the others ASAP. By the way, although these books would obviously appeal to girls, my 6 year-old son was just as captivated as his 8 year-old sister. If you have a young boy, you might want to try one from the library because he just might love it also!