Oops: Betsy Tacy

Thank you to reviewer, blogger, and all-around book brainiac Little Willow for alerting me to this issue and getting me the permission to repost this piece from Lorie Ann Grover (I wanted to the same thing with Little Willow’s name that she did with Lori Anne’s—you know, where you click on it and it links to her website? But I am an idiot, and I don’t know how.)

Anyway, as a huge Betsy-Tacy fan, I had to spread the word:

We will make it our aim at readergirlz to draw your attention to books that are sadly going out of print (OOP). If we all rant and copy and repost the blogs as we are able, maybe we'll tug the ears of the publishers. When Nancy informed us that the Betsy-Tacy series was going out of print, you should have heard the divas groan! I'm sad to say, we have our first OOPS! entry.

In 1940 Maud Hart Lovelace published her first novel Betsy-Tacy of the future series. The original works were illustrated brilliantly by Lois Lenski.

At the start, we meet five-year-old Betsy and her new friend, Tacy. Set in Deep Valley, Minnesota (Mankato, Minnesota, the author's town) in 1898, the girls' adventures abound. From everyday life to extraordinary fantasy, the duo is inseparable. Whether going to school for the first time or riding a feather above their homes, the girls discover the world.

Rereading Betsy-Tacy, I was struck by the history contained in the thin volume. I found American cultural history our girls should be exposed to today. What's a hitching block, or a pussy hood, and how do starched petticoats button to muslin underwaists? At the same time universal timeless themes are touched upon that our girls will still connect to personally. Shyness, siblings, imaginations, and death are a few of the concepts explored.

The entire series follows the girls as they mature. The first four titles focus on the girls from ages 5 to 10. Heaven to Betsy takes the characters to high school. Each work shows the characters age about a year until marriage in Betsy's Wedding.

Betsy-Tacy (1940) Betsy-Tacy and Tib (1941) Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill (1942) Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown (1943) Heaven to Betsy (1945) Betsy in Spite of Herself (1946) Betsy Was a Junior (1947) Betsy and Joe (1948) Betsy and the Great World (1952) Betsy's Wedding (1955)

More from Lorie Ann: I was so happy to discover the Betsy-Tacy Society. Here's an excerpt from their homepage:

The Betsy-Tacy Society was founded in 1990 by a group of 12 Mankato-area admirers of Maud Hart Lovelace's life and writing; it now numbers more than 1500 members. The goals of the BTS are:

* To promote and maintain the availability of Mrs. Lovelace's work; * To advocate for the reissue of any titles not currently in print; * To preserve existing landmarks and sites associated with the real people and places portrayed in the Betsy-Tacy books; and * To sustain interest in the lifestyle of the period, with special emphasis on family and women's history.

Let's speak up to keep Maud's dream alive. As she begins Betsy~Tacy:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream, The earth, and every common sight, To me did seem Apparell'd in celestial light, The glory and the freshness of a dream... - William Wordsworth

Give a shout out to the Betsy-Tacy series through the kidlitosphere.

HarperCollins, don't make this collection of true American girls go OOPS!

- Lorie Ann Grover, rgz diva/author

Notes from Little Willow:

I too enjoyed the Betsy-Tacy books. As a child, I checked them out from the public library. I remember learning that the author had based all of the characters on her own friends and family members and thinking, "That's like Little House!" Now, as an adult, I continue to recommend both series to young readers.

I love it when young writers ask me, "Is it okay to write stories that are kind of like what really happened to me?" "By all means," I reply, and we talk about books inspired by real lives.

The Betsy-Tacy books are classics. They represent and depict the society and the writing style of the times. They also value friendship and show the characters grow up. I have used this series as a kind of stepping-stone to the Anne of Green Gables series, which I adore. I also give it to All-of-a-Kind-Family fans, and vice-versa.

I hope that Betsy-Tacy comes back into print so that their stories may live on as they deserve.