Monday, October 12, 2009

Review: Betsy-Tacy & Betsy-Tacy and Tib by Maude Hart Lovelace

I was an avid reader as a young child and don't know how I missed the Betsy~Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. I would have loved these books and read them back to back if I had known about them. I am thrilled that I have been able to discover them as an adult and plan to share the discovery with my niece and friends who have young daughters. This heartwarming series is actually set at the turn of the century, over 100 years ago in the small town of Mankato, Minnesota. In the first book, Betsy~Tacy, Betsy is a young 5 year old girl wishing for a girl her own age to move into her neighborhood. Lo and behold, another family moves in across the strreet and they have a 5 year old girl named Tacy who is quite shy and bashful but the girls become the best of friends. Betsy and Tacy have many adventures, get into trouble, and have very vivid imaginations. They help each other adjust to life in kindergarten and dealing with sibling issues.

The story continues in Betsy~Tacy and Tib when a new girl named Tib moves into the neighborhood and their friendship broadens and they are 9-10 years old. Now, the three girls have many more adventures together and even start their own club. They have their share of troubles that they get into and I chuckled to myself at quite a few of them. They also must deal with life and death issues such as illness and the loss of a family member. I believe that the experiences Betsy, Tacy and Tib share are universal ones related to enduring friendships, sibling rivalries, parental authority etc. I believe that the Betsy~Tacy books can open up a world to young girls that can also teach them about compassion, sharing, generosity and so much more.

What I loved about Betsy~Tacy books was the simple and gentle approach to life, community and family. I would best describe them as wholesome, and they share a way of life that is different than our current modern lifestyles of today. There were no TV's, computers, cell phones to distract them away from the simpler things in life. I could relate to some of the girls experiences as I grew up in the 60's and 70's. I met my very first "best friend" in a similar way as Betsy when a new girl moved in across the street when I was between 3-4 years old. She was a year older and we became instant friends and loved playing dolls together. She was more of the bossy one who took charge and came up with the ideas that usually got us into trouble, similar to Betsy. I guess, I was more like Tacy who was a bit more shy and followed along with the "great" ideas. I also had red hair like Tacy as well. When my friend Robin was to go to kindergarten, she was not happy that I could not go with her as I was a year younger. She came up with a way for me to go with her to kindergarten. She gave me a dress to wear and I hid it in my closet. My father worked night shift and often was asleep around the time the bus would arrive and my mother was working. Robin told me to sneak out and get on the bus with her and then I could go to Kindergarten also. Well, it didn't work as my dad caught on to what we were doing just as I was about to get on the school bus. It's a family story that we still chuckle about today. Sadly, I've lost touch with Robin as we moved away and our lives changed. I loved cutting out paper dolls as a girl and so did Betsy, Tacy and Tib. They explored nature, built houses from wood, and were allowed some freedom to explore the world. These days, it is harder to trust our own world and society to allow our children to ride off on their bicycles or play unattended as for fear of predators and other dangers. I'm sure that there were issues in these times as well but we live in a different world now. There were also no TV's, computers, cell phones to distract them away from the simpler things in life. I think it would be enriching for more children to read the Betsy~Tacy books (especially books 1 & 2) today and give them some wonderful ideas as to how to "play" without the use of all of the electronic media that they "think" they so desperately need to survive! In my opinion, as a mom and as an occupational therapist by profession, kids have lost some of the natural curiosity and ability to play easily and simply and many have to be taught imaginative play. I know that we are fortunate to have our electronic gadgets and it would be hard to live without them if we were to have to give them up. On the other hand, if we don't have all the "stuff" or limit it and have more of a balanced life, our children can live a simpler more imaginative life. I think it would be enriching for more children to read the Betsy~Tacy books which can open up a whole new world to a child, to me, that is the beauty of reading and books!

The artwork was beautifully illustrated by Lois Lenski. There were wonderful black and white sketches throughout the books. They added charm and a way to imagine as a reader, what the girls worlds were like in Minnesota. I also enjoyed reading Maud Hart Lovelace's forward, notes and photos and sketches at the end of each book where she explains that much of the books are related to her real life. There is also a website dedicated to the Betsy~Tacy books called the Betsy~Tacy Society.

You can learn more about Maud Hart Lovelace,

the Betsy~Tacy Books,
Teachers & Librarians - Teaching ideas and activities
Betsy-Tacy Book Club - Start your own Betsy-Tacy Book Club
Fun & Games - Betsy-Tacy Activities for all ages
Birthday Party - Have a Betsy-Tacy Birthday Party

The exciting news for Betsy~Tacy fans is that Harper CollinsPublishers recently released and reiussued new double-volume editions of the final six books in the series and all of Maud Hart Lovelace's Betsy Tacy books are back in print.

There are reissue celebrations scheduled in the following cities:

There is also a Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge at A Library is a Hospital for the Mind,
check out the details here.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for inviting me to participate in this tour.

Check out these other TLC tour stops this week:


  1. I also would have loved these as a kid!

    I just finished reading the whole set, and they are all wonderful. I particularly like the later books-- Betsy and Joe (8) and Betsy and The Great World (9) were my favorites. I hope you keep enjoying them.

  2. Loved your review! I read these books as a child but am delighted to hear about new fans. My other favorite was Janet Lambert - did you ever come across Star Spangled Summer?


  3. From your review, I think I would love them too! I devoured books at a time when these would have been perfect for me. I certainly won't let my own (hopefully someday future) daughter miss out on these!

    Thanks for being on the tour, Bonnie, and for writing such a lovely review. :)

  4. I don't know how I missed these as a child either, especially since I loved Lois Lenski's work. It's nice to know they've stood the test of time.

  5. Oh how I adored these books as a girl! I read the entire series over and over. I had an early taste for historical fiction that has sustained! Now, If I could only get my daughter to read these, she's at the perfect age to (read them) yet also at the perfect age to not want to read what I suggest...

  6. I'm not familiar with this series. Thanks for the recommendation!

  7. These books have languished on my school shelves for far too long!! I now have a few girls in mind to recommend these to thanks to your wonderful review!!!

  8. Great review, Bonnie. I really enjoyed the link you included to Maud's bio too!

  9. As you can see, I'm playing catch-up in my blog reading.

    I agree that the simple life aspect to the story is wonderful. And I agree that kids don't "play" the same way anymore.

    Great review!

    Diary of an Eccentric


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