Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Hill is the third book in the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. As the novel opens Betsy, Tacy, and Tib are 9 going on 10 years old and they believe they have finally reached teh perfect age. After all, isn't it when you have two numbers in your age that exciting things start to happen. Like the previous two novels in the series, this one is a sweet, simple, but entertaining read. The three girls have their share of adventures, including traveling over the Big Hill to visit a new settlement in Deep Valley, Little Syria.
One of the aspects of the Betsy-Tacy series that I love is how real the stories feel. I know for a fact that Mrs. Lovelace used people and events from her own childhood when creating Betsy and Tacy's world, so the feeling of reality makes perfect sense, but what is more subtly noted is that she also incorporated historical people, places, and current events from the early 20th century. Two examples of the latter are found in Besty and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill. The first is the mention of the Flatiron building, which upon its completion in 1902, was one of the tallest skyscrapers in NYC. Another example is the coronation of King Alfonso of Spain, whom Betsy, Tacy and Tib (because she didn't want to be left out) fall in love with. Unfortunately this eventually leads the three girls into the biggest argument ever between them and Betsy and Tacy's older sisters. It takes some ingenuity on the part of several people before the argument is resolved and it is decided who will be Queen of Summer on the Big Hill.
Another aspect that I found of specific interest to me as I read Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill was the small Syrian community. Having recently read a book about women from the Middle East I was struck by the fact that in 1902 many people were emigrating to the US because of religious persecution by the Mohammedans -- something that still happens today. Another interesting characteristic of these emigrants was how patriotic they were. They were in America and they wanted to be treated as Americans. They worked hard to learn American history, to become fluent in English and they put aside their foreign ways and dress, except on special occasion or in the privacy of their home. They wanted to be Americans.
The last aspect of this novel that I found interesting was how much fun the children had without the modern forms of technology this current generation must have. Every evening they would gather outside and play games until it was dark and time to retire for the evening. The children knew the Star Spangled Banner by heart, something that a lot of children don't know today and organized patriotic parades as part of their play-world. The world, or more specifically the United States was certainly a different place and culture 100 years ago.
Overall, and as you might have already guessed, I loved Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill. It is such a delightful story and like the two preceding it, I cannot wait to be able to read it aloud to my daughter when she is a little older. On a scale of 1-5, 1 being horrible and 5 being excellent I would rate this one a 5. This is definitely a series that readers with young children in the home, or fans of the Anne series should add to their library.
And although only the first four books in the series are currently in print, I recently discovered some good news. According to the Betsy-Tacy Society the last seven books (the high school years) will be back in print by the Fall of 2009. Check out the Betsy-Tacy Society for more information.
Next... Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown. Stay tuned, look for my review in early May.
Note: I've always been curious why Tib is not included in the title of this book. Unfortunately in reading the book I am no closer to solving this mystery. I'd say it's because the series is the Betsy-Tacy series... and yet the second book in the series included Tib in the title. Interesting....