I am surprised I did not find the Betsy-Tacy books as a child. My children and I have discovered them recently, and have enjoyed them.
Maud Hart Lovelace wrote Betsy-Tacy based upon her childhood growing up in Mankato, Minnesota. Betsy hopes a family with children will move in across the street from her, especially a family with a girl her own age. She’s thrilled when she sees a family with lots of children move in, and when she sees a little girl on the front porch. She goes outside to greet her, but the little girl runs away and won’t speak to her! So Betsy decides she’s not going to be friends with that little girl.
Everything changes at Betsy’s fifth birthday party. Betsy’s older sister invites the girl’s older sister, and she drags her little sister along. After that, Tacy and Betsy become best friends – always together, except on Sunday mornings when they go to different churches.
Betsy-Tacy tells the stories of their adventures – picnicking on the bench at the end of Hill Street, exploring the big hill, their first day of school (where they both end up crying on the steps of Mrs. Chubbock’s store). They create colored sand, go calling at the empty chocolate-colored house near school, and Betsy makes up stories and poems to entertain them both.
In the midst of their sweet friendship are hard times which bring them closer: Tacy’s baby sister dies, and Betsy is able to comfort her; Betsy’s position as baby of the family is usurped by a new baby sister, and Tacy is able to comfort her.
Older elementary students should be able to read these books to themselves, and younger students will enjoy listening to them. The chapters are generally short enough to make them a good choice for a bedtime story, especially for girls. There are ten books in the series, which follow Betsy through her teenage years to her wedding. In order, they are:
- Betsy-Tacy and Tib
- Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
- Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown
- Heaven to Betsy
- Betsy in Spite of Herself
- Betsy was a Junior
- Betsy and Joe
- Betsy and the Great World
- Betsy’s Wedding