Title: Betsy ~ TacyBetsyTacy
Author: Maud Hart Lovelace
Pages: 113
Reading Level: 8-10
Star Rating: ★★★

My first expedition into the world of Betsy-Tacy…

The Story.

Betsy is worried, excited, anxious, and expectant all at the same time. You see, neighbors are moving into the house across the street, and Betsy hopes that one of them will be just her own age. Then they could play doll house together and climb up the hill together, and be best friends. Betsy can’t think of anything that would be more fun.

The neighbors move in, and they do have a four-year old little girl! Betsy is ecstatic. But when she tries to make friends with the little girl, the girl flees in pure terror. Betsy is upset and saddened. Will the little girl never warm up to her? Will they ever become best friends as Betsy had dreamed?

Thus begins an unforgettable summer for Betsy and Tacy.

Discussion.

There is a mild tension between Betsy and Tacy and their older sisters, Katie and Julia. This is first exemplified when Betsy’s mother hopes there will be a little girl Betsy’s age in the new house because she has no one to play with (Julia, who is four years older than Betsy has lots of friends. Why can’t they all play together?). Ms. Lovelace writes, “Julia and Katie were like most big sisters. They were bossy. Of course, they were eight, but even if they were eight, they weren’t so smart.” [pg. 18] Later, when Betsy and Tacy are playing with paper dolls, they make-believe a world where they get to run around and do whatever they want while their older sisters are stuck at home washing dishes and cleaning the house. They seem to take great delight in this punishment of their sisters.

Tacy’s mother “never scolded.” She explains, “If I tried to scold eleven I’d be scolding all day.” [pg. 41] It is not made clear what she substitutes for scolding, but she must do something because her children are not all little monsters.

When Tacy’s baby sister dies, Betsy tries to comfort her.

“Heaven’s awful nice.”

“Is it?” asked Tacy, looking toward her. Her eyes were big and full of trouble.

“Yes,” said Betsy. “It’s like that sunrise. In fact,” she added, “that’s it. We can’t see it during the day but early in the morning they let us have a peek.”

“It’s pretty,” said Tacy, staring.

“Those gold sticks you see, those are candles,” said Betsy. “There’s a gold-colored light all the time. And there are harps to play on; they’re something like pianos. But you don’t need to take any lessons. You just know how to play. Bee’s having a good time up there,” said Betsy, looking up into the sky.

Tacy looked too. “Can she see us?”

“Of course she can see us. She’s looking down right now. And I’ll tell you what tickles Bee. She knows all about Heaven, and we don’t. She’s younger than we are, but she knows something we don’t know. Isn’t that funny? She’s just a baby, and she knows more than we do.”

“And more than Julia and Katie do,” said Tacy.

“Even more than our fathers and mothers do,” said Betsy. “It’s funny when you come to think of it.”

“She’s a long way from home though,” said Tacy.

“But she gets all the news,” said Betsy. “Do you know how she gets it? Why, from the birds. They fly up there and tell her how you are and what you’re all doing down at your house.”

“Do they?” asked Tacy.

And just at that moment, the little up and down song stopped, and there flew past them, going right up the hill, a robin red breast. He was the first robin they had seen that spring, and he was as red as a red Easter egg. He flew up the hill fast, as though he knew where he was going.

“He’s going to see Bee, of course,” Betsy said. “He’ll be back in a minute.”

Tacy put her hand in her pocket, and it touched the colored Easter eggs she had brought from Betsy’s house.

“Betsy,” she said, “do you suppose he’d take one of these Easter eggs to Bee?”

“Of course he would,” said Betsy. “The only trouble is how to give it to him.”

She looked about her. She looked up, and high up in the tree was a nest. It was a big ragged nest. I looked as though it had been there all winter. But it was a nest; it was a bird’s house.

“Give me the egg,” she said. “Which one are you sending?”

“The purple one,” said Tacy. “It’s the prettiest.”

“I’ll put it in that nest,” said Betsy. “The robin can take it up in his mouth.”

So Betsy took the purple egg, and she put it in the pocket of her coat. And she climbed up the tree, higher than she had ever gone before. She didn’t look down; she looked up instead. She held on tight with her arms to the rough trunk of the tree, and she felt for the branches with her feet.

She climbed to the very top of the tree, and put the purple egg in the nest.

“There!” she said when she came back to Tacy. “Bee will like that egg.” [pgs. 61-63]

Betsy and Tacy often go on picnics together, absenting themselves from the family dinner table.

One of Betsy’s favorite activities is to make up stories. She makes up two in this story, both of which involve magic.

Conclusion. Sweet and cute, but also problematic.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *