Age Group: Children
Source: My local library.
Best Friends Forever
There are lots of children on Hill Street, but no little girls Betsy's age. So when a new family moves into the house across the street, Betsy hopes they will have a little girl she can play with. Sure enough, they do—a little girl named Tacy. And from the moment they meet at Betsy's fifth birthday party, Betsy and Tacy becomes such good friends that everyone starts to think of them as one person—Betsy-Tacy.
Betsy and Tacy have lots of fun together. They make a playhouse from a piano box, have a sand store, and dress up and go calling. And one day, they come home to a wonderful surprise—a new friend named Tib.
Ever since their first publication in the 1940's, the Betsy-Tacy stories have been loved by each generation of young readers. (From HarperCollins.com)
I was in a reading slump in the last week of July; I started book after book, but none of them held my interest. A couple weekends ago, the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace came up in a conversation with one of my co-workers at the library, and I decided to try the first book in the series, Betsy-Tacy. This series has been on my reading list for nearly a year since I received review copies of reprints of Lovelace's Deep Valley books and fell in love with Lovelace's prose and the Betsy-Tacy universe.*
As soon as I picked up Betsy-Tacy, my reading slump un-slumped.
For children, it's an easy-to-read, yet artfully told story about two best friends who go on adventures and make up games in their own backyards.
For parents or people working with children, it's a great read-aloud option.
And for childless adults and young adults, it's a mini time travelling vacation to all the good things of childhood. Lovelace has a knack for switching from realistic description to make-believe and back again. Betsy and Tacy's friendship begins around Betsy's fifth birthday, and I had fun watching that friendship grow and reading about their cute--and sometimes hilarious--made-up games.
I also enjoyed the illustrations by Lois Lenski, who won a Newbery for Strawberry Girl in 1946. They go well with Lovelace's poetic imagery.** Here's one of my favorites from Betsy-Tacy:
|Image source: a clock without hands|
I recommend Betsy-Tacy to beginning chapter book readers who like stories about unlikely friendships, as well as readers of all ages--especially historical fiction enthusiasts--who are looking for a quick, amusing, and heart-warming read. Lovelace's prose felt worn-in, classic, and infinitely re-readable. I'm already looking forward to reading the next Betsy-Tacy book, Betsy-Tacy and Tib.***
*Emily of Deep Valley and Carney's House Party and Winona's Pony Cart
**If it were a contest, Maud Hart Lovelace would be in the running for Queen of Description.
***Which I will have to ILL, since--sadly--I can't find a public or university library in town that owns it.