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November 16, 2011 - Jodelle Greiner
I just heard the first four books in the Betsy-Tacy series have been reissued and that’s good news. “Betsy-Tacy”, “Betsy-Tacy and Tib”, “Betsy-Tacy Go Over the Big Hill” and “Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown” are now all included in one volume called “The Betsy-Tacy Treasury.” These are the stories that cover the young childhood of Betsy Ray and Tacy Kelly and their friends and families, the creations of author Maud Hart Lovelace.
Lacelace grew up in Mankato and the Betsy-Tacy series was heavily based on her own childhood there. The series continues with Betsy and Tacy’s high school years and young adulthood in the early 20th Century.
If you liked the “Little House on the Prairie” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, you should check out the Betsy-Tacy books. The Little House books are about country life and pioneer ground-breaking, whereas the Betsy-Tacy books take place in a growing town, but they both have the same vibe of another era and a simpler time.
The books are separate stories from cover to cover, but the series should be read in sequence. There are several themes that run through the books, such as Betsy’s drive to be a writer and her hair curlers, and numerous people that re-occur.
Betsy and Tacy grow up surrounded by family and friends, but they have to work through issues that are common to young people, no matter what time they live in. They go to dances, agonize over schoolwork, and dream about boys, just like any teenage girl, but they also struggle with religious beliefs, self-image, worry about how to help their friends out of trouble, and finding the courage to admit when they’re wrong and mend fences with those they’ve hurt.
The four children’s stories in “The Betsy-Tacy Treasury” are for youngsters and are written in an easy-to-read style. They can be read by parents to children or read by the children on their own. The writing style progresses as the characters age. The longer novels are appropriate for tweens and older. “Heaven to Betsy” chronicles Betsy and Tacy’s freshman year of high school; “Betsy In Spite of Herself” covers the sophomore year; “Betsy Was a Junior”, self-explanatory; “Betsy and Joe”, the senior year; “Betsy and the Great World” about Betsy’s grand tour of Europe before war breaks out; and “Betsy’s Wedding”, which covers her whirl-wind engagement, and early marriage.
There are three related novels, called “Carney’s House Party”, “Emily of Deep Valley” and “Winona’s Pony Cart” and Lovelace wrote five other books not centered on Betsy and her friends.
The books have such a strong fanbase that The Betsy-Tacy Society was formed. It is located in Mankato and maintains Betsy’s House, Lovelace’s childhood home, and Tacy’s House, across Center Street from it. The Society will host the Betsy-Tacy Convention on July 19-22, 2012, and have other activities planned for those who enjoy and want to learn more about Betsy and Tacy’s world and their enduring friendship.
For more information, visit www.betsy-tacysociety.org online.
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