Book reviews: Betsy-Tacy and Betsy-Tacy and Tib

I’ve always been a reader. As a child, nothing made me happier than checking out a new book from the library.

OK, that’s not exactly true, for I also loved to read—over and over—the old friends that lined my bookshelf at home. Among those treasured favorites was a well-worn hardback of Betsy-Tacy, the very dearest member of my small collection and a book I’ve read at least a dozen times since I was seven.

Reviews . . . and a Giveaway!

Eventually I read (and loved) all the Betsy-Tacy books, so imagine my joy when the current publisher—Harper Trophy/Harper Perennial Modern Classics—sent me the whole set to review and give away on my blog! I’ve decided to do the review—and the giveaway—in several parts, mainly because I haven’t finished reading the later books in the series, but also because it’s more fun to spread the love!

Today I’ll review the first two books in the early series: Betsy-Tacy and Betsy-Tacy and Tib. In a day or two, I’ll post my review of the third and fourth books: Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill and Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown. And on Friday, I’ll tell you how you can win the set for your own daughter, niece, granddaughter, or young friend.

About the Early Betsy-Tacy Books

Written autobiographically by Maud Hart Lovelace, and whimsically illustrated by Lois Lensky, the first four Betsy-Tacy books are a recollection of the friendship and simple little escapades of three best pals—Betsy, Tacy, and Tib—during their carefree childhood at the turn of the twentieth century. Though their life 100 years ago doesn’t much resemble ours today, their joys, worries, and adventures remind us that children will always be children. Even with a century between us, I still think these girls are among the most relatable children in literature!

Betsy-Tacy

Want a book that completely captivates your inner child? Never mind your daughter—you’ll want your very own copy of Betsy-Tacy!

How I love this book about the spirited, imaginative Betsy Ray and her best friend Tacy Kelly! When they first meet at Betsy’s fifth birthday party, the two become inseparable. They share all sorts of adventures on their safe little street at the very edge of town: supper picnics on the hill, playing paper dolls, dyeing Easter eggs, and dressing up to “go calling” at the chocolate-colored house with the stained glass window.

Betsy loves to tell stories, and even her make-believe experiences—such as floating on feathers or riding in a buggy pulled by a talking horse—will delight every young girl’s fancy. Experienced through Betsy’s and Tacy’s eyes, the ordinary days of childhood are somehow transformed into a magical place of wonder!

Just as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books deal with difficult issues in an age-appropriate way, the Betsy books are similarly sprinkled with reminders that a little trouble comes to all of us. For example, the subject of death is gently broached when Betsy, in her childish innocence, finds a touching way to comfort Tacy after the death of her baby sister. And Tacy, one of nine children, finds just the right words to encourage a befuddled Betsy at the “surprise” arrival of a new little Ray bundle.

This sweet book is filled with stories both humorous and tender, making Betsy-Tacy a treat for the heart.

Betsy-Tacy and Tib

When my own daughters began reading the Betsy-Tacy books as young girls, I loved that they could escape into such an untroubled, innocent time and place to join hands with Betsy, Tacy, and their new friend Tib.

As the title suggests, the inseparable duo becomes a trio when good-natured Tib Mueller moves into the chocolate-colored house on Pleasant Street—and the escapades continue!

It was strange that Betsy and Tacy and Tib ever did things which grown-ups thought were naughty, for they tried so hard to be good.

Betsy is usually the ringleader, but Tacy and Tib participate eagerly. Whether cooking up a mess in the kitchen or thinking of ways to remember one another after they’re gone (think “hair” and “scissors”), their antics often manage to land them in a hot water. But when the girls are naughty—and it seems (in this particular book) that they often are—it’s always with the best intentions to do right; they even form a “Christian Kindness Club.” Even so, when Betsy, Tacy, and Tib do act impulsively, they experience conviction, remorse, and contrition, and their parents impose appropriate consequences. I appreciate that!

This book explores friendship, loyalty, and the joy and curiosity that come with being carefree eight-year-olds. Although they do get into occasional mischief, the girls set a positive example of how to behave in a friendship: through thick and thin, they’re faithful to the core; there’s no finger-pointing, quarreling, or envy among them; and they rejoice in each other’s successes. Betsy-Tacy and Tib is a wonderful sequel to Betsy-Tacy.

Note: Betsy-Tacy begins when the girls are five. By the fourth book, Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, they are pre-teens. As Betsy, Tacy, and Tib grow up, the situations, vocabulary, and reading level become slightly more complex with each book. While a five-year-old would enjoy hearing Betsy-Tacy as a read-aloud, she may not show interest in the other three books until she herself is a bit older. But a 10- or 12-year-old is sure to enjoy all four in the early series.

More to come . . .

Stay tuned! I’ll post my review of Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill and Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown in a day or two. And then I’ll tell you about the giveaway!

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4 comments ↓

#1 Misti on 01.29.10 at 6:25 pm

I’ve never heard of these books, but after reading your review of the first two, I can’t wait to look for them at the local library. And even more, I’m anxiously awaiting more info on the contest. :-) Thanks for sharing!
Blessings,
Misti in MO

#2 Kim on 01.29.10 at 8:21 pm

I think these books have remained popular enough that many libraries would have them on their shelves. Not sure about the older set, since they went out of print for a season.

Thank you for taking time to stop by and comment, Misti!

#3 Akrista L. on 03.04.10 at 6:18 am

This series was one of my favorites as a child. I think I read them all over and over and recommended them to my girls. I’m not sure if they got as much pleasure as I did, but I would love to read them again.

I look forward to reading more of your reviews and also to the giveaway.

#4 Kim on 03.04.10 at 7:20 am

Thank you, Akrista. I am so behind on that second review! I really hope to get to it very soon. Thanks for hanging on patiently. :)

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