Sunday, September 27, 2009

Review: Betsy-Tacy Books #3 and #4

Summary: Betsy, Tacy, and Tib can't wait to be ten. After all, getting two numbers in your age is the beginning of growing up--exciting things are bound to happen. And they do! The girls fall in love with the King of Spain, perform in the School Entertainment, and for the first time, go all the way over the Big Hill to Little Syria by themselves. There Betsy, Tacy, and Tib make new friends and learn a thing or two. They learn that new Americans are sometimes the best Americans. And they learn that they themselves wouldn't want to be anything else.

Ever since their first publication in the 1940s, the Betsy-Tacy stories have been loved by each generation of young readers. -- Harper Collins

Summary: Betsy, Tacy, and Tib are twelve--old enough to do lots of things...even go downtown on their own. There they see their first horseless carriage, discover the joys of the public library, and see a real play at the Opera House. They even find themselves acting in one! Best of all, they help a lonely new friend feel at home in Deep Valley--the most wonderful place in the world to grow up. Ever since their first publication in the 1940s, the Betsy-Tacy stories have been loved by each generation of young readers. -- Harper Collins

Yesterday, Booking Daughter and I gave our review of the first two books in the Betsy-Tacy series written by Maud Hart Lovelace and illustrated by Lois Lenski -- BETSY-TACY and BETSY-TACY AND TIB. We absolutely fell in love with everything about these books. In keeping with our Betsy-Tacy mini-marathon, today we will be talking about Books #3 and #4 BETSY AND TACY GO OVER THE BIG HILL and BETSY AND TACY GO DOWNTOWN. I thought I loved the first two books, but I think I enjoyed Books #3 and #4 even more.

As far as I'm concerned, the Betsy-Tacy books just keep getting better and better. In Book 3, the girls were 10 years old; and in Book 4, they were 12 years old; and I really liked seeing these girls around the same age as my daughter. Even though these books were first released in the 1940, so much of the story is timeless. I could see so many similarities between Betsy, Tacy, and Tib and my daughter and her friends. I don't know how Ms. Lovelace managed to capture the essence of young girls so well, but she conveyed so many universal themes about girls and friendship that still exist today.

In BETSY AND TACY GO OVER THE BIG HILL, the reader sees how much the girls have changed since the last novel. The girls are ten years old and decide that they can now venture "over the big hill." Once they go over the hill and enter Little Syria, the girls quickly make new friends while also learning about an entirely different culture. I loved their innocence and willingness to embrace the differences rather than question them. In addition, I liked how the girls ultimately learned how fortunate they are to live in America!

I think my favorite book of the first four was BETSY AND TACY GO DOWNTOWN. I thought this book clearly showed how much the girls were growing up and maturing. I loved that despite growing up, all three girls still maintained their closeness -- it was just so heartwarming to see how nice the girls were to each other! In addition, I enjoyed the story of Betsy becoming friends with Mrs. Poppy, the ex-actress who had recently moved to Deep Valley. Mrs. Poppy didn't really have any close friends because so many of the townspeople considered her different; however, she and Betsy became wonderful friends. I loved how their relationship demonstrated how valuable and important a friend can be! And, I found it extremely heartwarming to see how much each one wanted to give the other something special to treasure.

As a member of a mother-daughter book club, I can't recommend these books enough! I so wish we would read these two books with our girls because I think both the daughters and the mothers would love them. (Maybe I could help make some more Betsy-Tacy converts.) In addition, I think everyone will relate to Betsy, Tacy and Tib; and there are certainly a lot of issues that warrant further discussion. I would like to hear the girls discuss the similarities and differences of the past and present -- I'm sure they'd offer some additional insight for me. I also would love for them to compare Betsy and her friends with some of their own friendships.

I was curious to see whether Booking Daughter would like these two books more than the first two in the series because the characters are closer to her current age. Here are her thoughts:

I actually liked these books just as much as the first two, but in totally different ways. In BETSY-TACY and BETSY-TACY AND TIB, I thought the girls were goofier and had crazier ideas. I laughed a lot more when the girls were younger.

In BETSY AND TACY GO OVER THE BIG HILL and BETSY AND TACY GO DOWNTOWN, I liked they were growing up. The girls seemed to do and think a lot of the same things as my friends and I do. I also liked that their friendship was so strong and they never had a fight.

In BETSY AND TACY GO OVER THE BIG HILL, I thought it was funny how the girls wrote to the King of Spain. I also really liked the ending when they threw a big celebration for their new friend Naifa. I thought it showed how sweet the girls were and how happy they were to live in America and be free.

In BETSY AND TACY GO DOWNTOWN, I enjoyed that the girls got to perform at the Opera House. I also liked how Betsy became friends with a woman who was lonely and felt like an outsider. This story showed how nice and kind Betsy was.

I definitely will be recommending these books to my friends and teacher at school. I think everyone will love Betsy-Tacy books as much as I do.

Thanks to Book Club Girl for sending us these books.


Jennifer said...

I am writing these down to keep in mind as gifts for my nieces when they are a wee bit older. Thanks! Being a mum to all boys, I admit to being behind on all the fantastic YA books for girls.

StephanieD said...

I remembered reading these as a kid. I'm glad they're being re-discovered.

bermudaonion said...

I'm so glad Booking Daughter has found a new to her series to love so much! The books sound wonderful!

Beth F said...

THanks again to both of you for your strong reviews. I think I really do need to read these.

S. Mehrens said...

Great review! Just for fun I thought I'd host a Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge to coincide with the release of the reprinted high school years. If you are interested you can check it out here:

Anna said...

I agree, they keep getting better and better. I'm on #6 now. I was going to set them aside for a while, but I just can't help myself. LOL

I hope my daughter loves them like yours does.

Diary of an Eccentric