Friday, October 1, 2010
Betsy-Tacy Fanatics Unite!
Drumroll, please....Ta-da! It's the Second Annual Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge! I didn't know such things existed, but life is full of delightful surprises. Not only is there a chance to win copies of new re-issues of Emily of Deep Valley, Carney's House Party, and Winona's Pony Cart, but participants also have a shot at a Betsy-Tacy themed tote bag (!!!). Words cannot describe my thrilldom.
Okay. Let me back up a step for the newbies. What the heck is Betsy-Tacy? Only one of the very best series written for children e-v-e-r. Frankly, they're girl books. But if you loved the usual suspects (Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne of Various Places, Caddie Woodlawn, and so on), you can't miss this series. The books begin when Betsy Ray is five years old and continue through her marriage. Set mostly in "Deep Valley," Minnesota (that is, Mankato) around the turn of the century, these beautifully illustrated books capture a time and place long gone. I grew up wishing and wishing I lived in the Deep Valley world, but it's probably just as well because the Syrian immigrants were exotic enough--what would they have thought of a little Chinese girl? Oh, and before Mr. Darcy, before Mr. Rochester, before Rhett Butler, there was Joe Willard. Get to Betsy's high school years, and you'll know what I mean. Enough said.
If you're starting from scratch, here's the order you should read them in to see the characters chronologically:
Betsy-Tacy and Tib
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
Winona's Pony Cart
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown
Heaven to Betsy
Betsy in Spite of Herself
Betsy Was a Junior
Betsy and Joe
Carney's House Party
Betsy and the Great World
Emily of Deep Valley falls in there some time after Betsy graduates high school. This was the only one of the books I didn't get in to, but I'll have to try it again.
To participate in the challenge, you announce which book(s) you plan to (re-)read this month and blog about it. For me it'll be a re-read of Carney's House Party, although just yesterday I was looking for a missing library book in the kids' room and ended up reading a few chapters of Betsy and the Great World. The library book? It's still missing.
If you're getting a little weary of today's books--vampires, nuclear-families-that-are-secretly-hideously-dysfunctional, or even YA that makes Judy Blume's Forever sound like middle-grade fiction--try Betsy and friends this month. But if you win the tote bag I'm gonna be really sorry I ever told you about it!