Author: Maud Hart Lovelace
Publication Date: First Published in 1940
Genre: Junior Fiction, Realistic Fiction
To people in Deep Valley, it felt like Betsy and Tacy had always been friends, since it was difficult to imagine one without the other. The girls first became friends when they were five years old and Tacy moved to the house across the street from Betsy. Tacy is very bashful while Betsy is a born storyteller. Together, they can turn an ordinary piano box into their extraordinary hideout or a sand into their own special shop. Betsy tells Tacy stories about giant feathers or about the magic horse that pulls the milk wagon. As long as they have each other, any day can be magical for Betsy and Tacy.
This is wonderful little book about two little girls and their day-to-day adventures at the turn of the century. While they are rather ordinary girls, they turn simple activities into something magical. Reading these books was slightly bittersweet, since I knew that I’d been missing out on these books throughout my childhood. I don’t understand how I hadn’t heard of this series until very recently. I re-watched You’ve Got Mail in mid October, and caught a reference to the series. A year or so ago I read Ballet Shoes, based on the reference in the same movie. It was amazing, so I figured I’d have to read Betsy-Tacy as well. A week or so ago I read Home for the Holidays by Heather Vogel Frederick, which is a part of the Mother-Daughter Book Club series. In the book, the girls read the ten books in the Betsy-Tacy series, which they all loved. Fans of the books actually wrote to Frederick trying to convince her to read Betsy-Tacy (which she did, and she obviously loved them.) After reading that, I went out to the library and took out Betsy-Tacy. This book struck me as the Anne of Green Gables for the younger set. It had similar themes and focused a lot on a strong friendship, plus the main character had a vibrant imagination. These books are semi-autobiographical and were originally stories Maud Hart Lovelace would tell to her daughter. As her daughter grew up, so did Betsy and Tacy. The main characters are sweet girls and it was very easy to forget that this book takes place in the 1900's. I was their age in 1995, but I still saw similarities in our childhoods, although theirs took place in a very different time. I’m really looking forward to seeing the girls grow up throughout the series, which ends with Betsy’s wedding.
When first hearing about these books, it would be easy to dismiss them as being boring. The plot outline doesn’t exactly sound riveting. I think that that’s the beauty of this book: it takes simple and ordinary things that children do and turns it into a sweet book about the wonders of imagination and childhood. Although the writing is very simple, it’s also charming and delightful. My favourite part was when Betsy was telling Tacy about heaven. I thought that chapter was sad and beautifully written, yet it still managed to have all the sweetness of an ideal childhood. I’m really looking forward to continuing with this series. I don’t think this lovely book is half as popular as it deserves to be. Betsy-Tacy is practically perfect and a must-read for children (or children at heart.)
“Goodness!” Said Betsy. “The world is big.”