One of my all-time favorite series of books is the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. Written during the 1940s and 50s the series consists of ten books that follow Betsy (Elizabeth) Ray and her friend Tacy (Anastasia) Kelly as they grow up in southern Minnesota during the turn of the century (1898-1917).
The first book in the series, Betsy-Tacy, begins just before Betsy's fifth birthday when she meets and becomes friends with a new neighbor girl, Tacy. Throughout the book the two girls share many adventures, both real and make-believe, and support each other in moments of trouble (i.e. the first day of school, a death and a birth in the family).
Betsy-Tacy is a wonderful book that is simple in its telling yet rich food a young reader's imagination. There are two things I love about Betsy-Tacy as a book. First, I love how readers can relate to Betsy and Tacy in spite of the fact the book was written nearly 60 years ago about people living over a 100 years ago. Second, I love that while reading Betsy-Tacy young readers can learn about American history and what life was like for their great-grandparents (or great-great grandparents) all because Mrs. Lovelace was able to capture the daily routine of life during the 1890s and present it in an exciting and entertaining story. Betsy-Tacy is a classic that should be on every little girl's bookshelf.
I first became aware of the Besty-Tacy series as a child when my mother (who read them as a child) bought me a copy of Betsy-Tacy. I became reacquainted with the books during a visit to the city library when I was 12. I loved the books so much I wrote to the publisher of Betsy-Tacy and begged them to re-print the entire series. A couple years later they did, but unfortunately the series has since gone back to being out of print. I checked online and readers can still find some of the books (in paperback) for affordable prices at websites such as Amazon and EBay, but finding original publications in hardback proves to be a little harder and are often more expensive.
At 113 pages Betsy-Tacy is a quick read for advanced readers and although it was originally intended for young readers (ages 7-10), it works well as a read aloud for children ages 4-6. Although cover illustrations differ, the internal illustrations in all books were done by award winning artist Lois Lenski and add to the enjoyability of the book.
On a scale of 1-5, one being horrible and five being excellent, I would rate Betsy-Tacy a five. I love this book. If you love the Little House on the Prairie series and the Anne of Green Gables series, you'll love this series too.
Note: Over the years the Betsy-Tacy series has accumulated quite a following. Two examples are The Maud Hard Lovelace Book Award, which was created in 1980 for authors of children's books, and The Betsy-Tacy Society which was founded in 1990.
Note 2: Already read the series? Were you aware that Mrs. Lovelace wrote three additional books set in Deep Valley? Look for Carney's House Party, Emily of Deep Valley, and Winona's Pony Cart.