(mini) Reviews: The first four Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace

02 Oct

Betsy-tacyThe first four books:

  • Betsy-Tacy
  • Betsy-Tacy and Tib
  • Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
  • Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown

Somehow I never found the Betsy-Tacy books as a child. I would have loved them when I was young.

For those that missed them as well, these tell the story of Betsy, a young girl at the turn of the century. Not the recent one, but 100 years ago (the books were written in the 1940s).  Her best friend Tacy lives across the street.  They are very nice books about their experiences in a small town.

Betsy-Tacy and TibNice doesn’t mean that nothing bad happens.  A baby sibling dies, issues of bullying and racism are addressed. Sibling rivalry is an ongoing issue.  But all in all, I think nice still describes them well.

Betsy-Tacy begins when the girls are 5, and these first books each skip forward a couple of years.  In Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, they are 12.  The girls grow up, and the situations and language used grow more complex with each one.

Betsy-Tacy go over the Big HillI was surprised at how modern? progressive? these books are.  The girls are encouraged to become friends with someone from another culture, and when Tib damages her beautiful new dress standing up for someone who is being picked on,  her parents tell her that’s how they want her to behave.  The three girls all have ideas of having a career when they grow up.

They still give a picture of another era, where young girls are free to roam the neighborhood and beyond.  There are no cars, and telephones are relatively new on the scene.  The people are still very much the same.

Betsy-Tacy go DowntownI discovered these first four books when my daughter was around 8, I don’t remember exactly when. I read the first couple with her, but she grew impatient and read the others to herself. She began to lose interest as the girls got older, and since the later books were hard to find, we ended up setting them aside.

Then and now, I thoroughly enjoyed these four books as cute books for children.  They read very quickly and bring a smile to my face.  I’d only pick them up as an adult if I was looking for the simplicity of a child’s view or to lay the groundwork for the later books.

My daughter (now 11) adored the first three books when she read them.   She was jumping up and down excited when these four books came in the mail.

Her comment now is that she likes all four of these early books, but both then and now, the book she liked best is whichever one Betsy and Tacy are closest to her own age.    She also really likes how seeing the friendship between the three girls develops.

I wanted to add that ever since she read about the girls and their paper dolls, she requests any catalog we didn’t want any more, so she can cut out the people or use the scenery.  Even now, men dolls are much harder to come by, and she gets frustrated by close up shots where people are missing feet or entire limbs.

I was thrilled to hear that the last 6 books were being reissued, particularly since my daughter is now (at 11) of more of an age to enjoy them herself.  I was even more excited to be part of the TLC Book Tour.  Thank you for this opportunity.

I’m officially scheduled for a tour stop reviewing Betsy and Joe, the eighth Betsy-Tacy book on October 6.  I’ll be posting reviews of books 5, 6, and 7 this weekend.  You can also check out the other tour stops:


Posted by on October 2, 2009 in books, reviews, tour


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12 responses to “(mini) Reviews: The first four Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace

  1. Audrey

    October 3, 2009 at 7:16 am

    I’d never heard of these books until Meg Cabot posted about loving them. And then I forgot about them. I’m so glad to hear that they’re being re-released. I wish I would have gotten to check them out as a kid!

  2. Belle

    October 3, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    I guess I was lucky – Betsy & Tacy is one of the first books I remember ever reading, back when I was 5 or 6. I grew up with Betsy and her friends, and have fond memories of playacting the books (I was always Betsy, of course!)

  3. Annie Solomon

    October 3, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I LOVED these books as a child. So cool you’re writing about them. I also loved all the magic books by Edward Eager: Magic by the Lake, Half-Magic, and Magic or Not? I don’t know if you can get hold of these–maybe at the library?–but if your daughter like fantasy, she might enjoy these.

  4. Dawn

    October 3, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    I didn’t read these as a kid, either, but I’m so glad that my girls are able to grow up with them!

    My 7 yr old picked up and read Betsy-Tacy before I did, and asked me about baby Bea dying. I used it as a an opportunity to talk about vaccinations we get today (that weren’t available 100 years ago).

    I’m really enjoying the books from high school and beyond!

  5. Betsy

    April 10, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    My mother read these books in the 1940’s. I read them in the 1960’s and 70’s. I started reading them to my daughter in the 80’s and 90’s. I was named after Betsy Ray.


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