Monday, October 10, 2016

MMGM: If You Like the Betsy-Tacy Books …

Bear with me as I take a break from my usual highlight of modern, just-published kidlit to travel back to the last century to share a beloved author with you...

I discovered the Betsy-Tacy-Tib series  in elementary school. Like Betsy, I wanted to be a writer and had a friend like Tacy, a girl who loved to play pretend and listen to my stories. She’s still a treasured friend after all these years...and I still love these books.

Betsy-Tacy doesn’t get as much attention as Anne of Green Gables or Laura Ingalls, but she should. Like those books, Lovelace offers a character-rich slice of life in different era. But if like me, you can't get enough of Lovelace, did you know she wrote other children's books--some set in Deep Valley?


Picture Book

The Trees Kneel at Christmas




After Grandmother explains why the trees in Lebanon kneel at Christmas, Afify and Hanna hope to witness a similar miracle in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. (synopsis from Amazon)


This is a picture book Christmas story about Lebanese refugees and their traditions, a beautiful book written with Lovelace's wonderful ability to portray children's experiences in thoughtful ways.

Middle Grade

Winona’s Pony Cart




Winona Root is almost eight years old. More than anything in the world, she wants a pony for her birthday. She wishes so hard for a pony that she's sure to get one--at least, that's what she tells her friends Betsy, Tacy, and Tib. It's only when the exciting day grows near that Winona begins to wonder: What if her father meant it when he said she couldn't have a pony? (synopsis from Amazon)

This is the most “middle grade” of the extra books about Deep Valley. While I love Winona in the Betsy books, especially how she stands up to Betsy in elementary and is full of fun in high school, I didn’t love her in the Pony Cart. Like a lot of girls, Winona wants a pony, and her parents respond in an interesting way. However, I didn’t like how this story ended. Not my favorite of the “extra” books.

Young Adult (though these might appeal to middle grade readers as well)

Carney’s House Party




It is the summer of 1911, the Carney Sibley is back home in her beloved town of Deep Valley, Minnesota. She's looking forward to hosting a month-long house party, with guests including her Vassar college roommate Isobel Porteous and old chum Betsy Ray. With lots of the old Crowd and a new friend--wealthy, unkept, but loveable Sam Hutchinson--around, the days are filled with fun. And romance seems to be in the air. But Carney can never be romantic about anyone but Larry Humphreys, her high school sweetheart, who moved to California four years ago. Then Larry returns to Deep Valley and sets the town abuzz. Will Larry purpose? And will Carney say yes? (synopsis from Amazon)

This was the book I expected not to like. A book about a month-long sleepover? But it is so much more than that. I loved the depictions of early days at Vassar (an all women’s college at the time) and the resolution of the Carney-Larry question. But mostly, I found Carney to be an interesting character. She's one of the smartest of the girls in the “crowd” and attends an exclusive college, even though she just wants to be a housewife. In Lovelace books, girls can like embroidery and be smart. The romance in this book is very sweet and gives an interesting glimpse into dating rituals of those times.


Emily of Deep Valley






Emily Webster, an orphan living with her grandfather, is not like the other girls her age in Deep Valley, Minnesota. The gulf between Emily and her classmates widens even more when they graduate from Deep Valley High School in 1912. Emily longs to go off to college with everyone else, but she can't leave her grandfather.

Emily resigns herself to facing a "lost winter," but soon decides to stop feeling sorry for herself. And with a new program of study, a growing interest in the Syrian community, and handsome new teacher at the high school to fill her days, Emily gains more than she ever dreamed... (synopsis from Amazon)


This is probably my favorite extra book, if not my favorite Lovelace book. Emily sacrifices her dreams for her family and is put upon by her insufferable high school friends. But eventually she learns to make the best of staying home from college by reaching out to the Syrian refuges in Deep Valley. It inspires me every time I read it to bloom where I’m planted.  Well worth your time.

Have you read the Betsy-Tacy-Tib books? What is your favorite classic author for children or adults?

(This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  Thank you for your support!)

To check out more Marvelous Middle Grade suggestions, check out Shannon Messenger's blog. 


31 comments:

  1. I've not read any of these. Your comments convinced me I should make sure to add at least one of them to my TBR list. I also know a few young readers who would enjoy the stories.

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    1. I hope the young people you know enjoy these. They're timeless books.

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  2. I loved the Betsy Tacy books! I recently bought the first few in the series for my niece. Made me want to read them all over again. :)

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    1. Glad to meet another fan! I hope your niece likes them too. I need to introduce my niece to this series.

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  3. I didn't know that. I was a major fan of Anne of Green Gables. Really, I still am. I bet I'd enjoy these. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. If you liked Anne, you'll love these. Betsy's a similar character, full of dreams.

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  4. I remember reading at least one Betsy-Tacy book (and it seemed old-fashioned even then). How fascinating that there were Syrian refugees in this country back in the early 1900s! Of course, the US has always been a melting pot.

    My favorite "classic" author has always been Laura Ingalls Wilder, only because I read every single one of those books!

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    1. I thought the parts about the Syrian refugees were some of the most interesting parts, especially when Betsy sticks up for a girl being teased for being Syrian in the younger ones.
      Yes, I've read Wilder many, many times myself.

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  5. I loved this trip back in time. What makes books so wonderful is they endure. Thanks for this post.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! Yes, there's always a good reason when books do endure.

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  6. I have to confess I haven't even heard of the Betsy-Tacy books. And they look like they would really have appealed to me when I was in my Anne of Green Gables phase.

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    1. Yes, it's a similar feel to Anne--and the same time period too! Betsy doesn't have as many hardships as Anne, but she's got a lot of personality and of course, is also a writer.

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  7. When were these books written? I've never heard of Betsy-Tacy books. I think I would have adored them if they were written when I was young. Lovely posts and book recommendations!

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    1. The first one was published in 1940. Lovelace started telling her daughter about her childhood at the turn of the last century and then decided to make them into books. All the characters are based on real people Lovelace knew.

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  8. I have never heard of these books, or didn't know I was hearing about them! They sound like books I'd thoroughly enjoy, so I appreciate your making the introduction. I'm thinking the older ones may have a bit of a Daddy-Long-Legs flavor. :)

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    1. I hope you enjoy them, Suzanne! I think the older ones are more like Anne of Green Gable's books, although the college setting of Carney's might feel like DLL (no older man though!)

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  9. Oh! How come I've never heard of these before?? Will add them to my Must Buy list!

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  10. Thank you for reminding me of your Betsy... My kid-lit book group just had us read UNDERSTOOD BETSY, an older and stand alone classic about another Betsy, and it got me thinking about how differently we write today... But the book's immense comforts did not escape me, a hundred years after it was first published.

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    1. I didn't discover UNDERSTOOD BETSY until a few years ago. Another great Betsy character. Comforting is a good word for these books. I just feel myself slow down when I read of this time when the pace of life was so much slower--and yet these characters are so timeless.

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  11. I loved all the Betsy books, but I never read anything else by Lovelace. I will be checking some of these out. Thanks for the heads up.

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    1. I hope you enjoy these, Rosi! I think you'll like these if you like Lovelace.

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  12. I have always adored Betsy! I remember reading them in the orchestra pit in high school, which might be a little weird! I also loved Anne, but Daddy Long Legs was kind of creepy!

    Have you nominated for the Cybils award? Only two days left! http://www.cybils.com/2016/10/and-go-cybils-nominations-are-open.html

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    1. I agree about Daddy Long Legs! And yes, I did nominate one of my favorites this year.

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  13. I have always adored Betsy! I remember reading them in the orchestra pit in high school, which might be a little weird! I also loved Anne, but Daddy Long Legs was kind of creepy!

    Have you nominated for the Cybils award? Only two days left! http://www.cybils.com/2016/10/and-go-cybils-nominations-are-open.html

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  14. I love Emily of Deep Valley! It's probably my favorite Betsy book (although I love Betsy's Wedding and all the high school books,too) and one of my favorite books, period. Thank you for highlighting these books today. Everyone should know about them!:)

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    1. Yes, Emily of Deep Valley is such a lovely book. I wish everyone knew about it too. :) Thanks for stopping by, Sara!

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  15. As I grew up in Mankato, I have all these in my book collection. They're so good and I still read them, even at age 59!

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    1. Have you visited Lovelace's house? That's one of my dreams someday. Thanks for stopping by, Kathryn! Glad to meet another fan!

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  16. I never read any Betsy-Tacy books, but I loved the Betsy books by Carolyn Harwood when I was in elementary school. I read them all. :)

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