The Betsy-Tacy Series
Written by Maud Hart Lovelace
Published by HarperCollins, Reissued 2000 and 2009
With all that is going on in our lives right now, be it sickness, job worries or money concerns, we need comfort reads. These cozy, good-hearted, snuggly reads reminds us how good the world can be, how wonderful caring people are needed and how to take pleasure in the simple things in life. That is why I have whole-heartedly thrown myself into the world of Betsy-Tacy, the fictionalized autobiographical books by Maud Hart Lovelace.
I don’t know how I missed these books when I was young. Of course, I missed Anne of Green Gables too, so someone somewhere was lacking in my reading development! Actually, more than likely, I was too wrapped up in Laura Ingalls Wilder and Beezus and Ramona to notice any of the other excellent children’s books that were to be had. It’s such a shame because the Betsy-Tacy books are a delight.
The magic of these books, as well as the ones I remember reading, is the experience of growing up with the main character, especially for the intended audience. For those of us who are older, it is an opportunity to remember. To remember the joys of childhood, the bliss of playing with your friends, of using your imagination to make up stories and games, the excitement of those little things that you took for granted.
We are first introduced to Betsy and Tacy in the first book of the series, aptly titled Betsy-Tacy. Betsy and Tacy are only five years old and have just become the best of friends. They met at Betsy’s birthday party and quickly become so inseparable that people being to think of them as one person, Betsy-Tacy.
The next in the series is Betsy, Tacy and Tib, where a new girl, Tib, is added to the mix. The girls are now eight years old and just as inquisitive and precocious as they were at five. Tib is the adorable, tow-headed beauty who moves into the curious chocolate brown house that Betsy loves to look at. This one was a particular favorite of mine because the three girls, when left alone at Betsy’s house for the first time, make , a mix of a little of this and a little of that from around the kitchen – something that sounds like something I would have done (and probably did!) when I was their age.
In Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, the girls meet that huge milestone – ten years old. After all, it is the start of growing up, having two numbers in your age instead of one! This one was absolutely adorable, with the girls falling in love with the King of Spain. They even send him a love letter! They also have the biggest fight of their lives with their sisters and meet a real, live princess, living in their own town! I really enjoyed this one too.
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown finds the girls at twelve years of age and finally old enough to go downtown on their own. They see their first horseless carriage; Tacy even gets to ride in it, and experience being in a real play, in a real theater, with a real, huge, audience. They also make a new friend out of the most unlikely person.
There is also an amusing side plot here. Betsy, more than anything, wants to be a writer. She writes plays, poems and little stories for her family and friends. She has taken to writing stories up in a tree in her backyard. They have discovered dime novels (the one referenced in the book is Lady Audley’s Secret) and Betsy has started her own such story. When she shares this secret with her mother, her mother encourages her to write stories that are a little less…scandalous. This prompts Betsy to burn her stories. Her parents, to encourage a love of classic literature and therefore less salacious reading, decide she will be allowed to go to the new downtown library every two weeks to read and check out better books.
Now, I don’t quite agree with the burning of her stories, but I love how her parents took her desire to write and gently steered her into writing more wholesome stories. Nowadays, Lady’s Audley’s Secret is considered a classic, up there with Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and the like, but during the time this was writing it was quite scandalous. I like how instead of outright telling Betsy no, you can’t write this kind of trash, they push her to expand her mind and talents in a better way.
Of course, I’ve read, and quite enjoyed Lady Audley’s Secret. Hello, the woman is the villain! What does that say about my readings tastes? Oh dear!
The girl’s story continues in Heaven to Betsy, Betsy in Spite of Herself, Betsy was a Junior, Betsy and Joe, Betsy and the Great World, and Betsy’s Wedding. Which I am saving for another post because wow, I’m reaching too long, didn’t read territory and I barely feel like I have scratched the surface of my feelings for these magical books of a peaceful, imaginative, and sadly forgotten (?) time when things were quieter, easier, peaceful and loving. When neighbors were your best friends, your parents your protectors and nurturers, and everyone was ready to lend a helping hand. Makes me we could all go back to a time like that. But really, thank heavens we can! We can get there, through these books and we can lead our children there as well.
I picked up an interesting tidbit from Wikipedia about the series:
As of 1992, only the first four books were still in print. A letter writing campaign to the Harper Collins publishing house organized by The Betsy-Tacy Society, a group of mostly adult Betsy-Tacy fans, led to all of the Betsy-Tacy books being reprinted. By 2006, several of the later books had gone out of print again, but three new editions (in 2009) by Harper Perennial Modern Classics feature pairings of the final six books, with forewords by authors who remember the stories fondly and illustrated notes on the books and Lovelace herself.
Way to go Society peoples and thank you! Thank you to the publisher for suppling these books. And a huge thank you also to TLC Book Tours for offering me the chance to be introduced to these lovely books. It’s never too late to meet an old classic and now I can make sure my own daughter meets these lovely characters.
Other stops on the Betsy-Tacy Blog Tour:
The Betsy-Tacy TLC Blog Tours TOUR STOPS
Monday, September 21st: 5 Little Monkeys
Tuesday, September 22nd: Six Boxes of Books
Wednesday, September 23rd: Here in the Bonny Glen
Monday, September 28th: Booking Mama
Tuesday, September 29th: The Brain Lair
Thursday, October 1st: She Is Too Fond of Books
Tuesday, October 6th: I’m Booking It
Wednesday, October 7th: Kate’s Book Blog
Thursday, October 8th: The Tome Traveller
Monday, October 12th: Red Lady’s Reading Room
Wednesday, October 14th: The Well-Read Child
Thursday, October 15th: Diary of an Eccentric
Monday, October 19th: Joelle Anthony
Wednesday, October 21st: KidLit History