RTW: Best Book of April ~ Betsy-Tacy


From YA Highway:
Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This Week's Topic:
What was the best book you read in April?

My list of reads for April is rather short – On Writing by Stephen King (read about it here), The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (finally finished!) and my favorite book of the month:  Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace, which I am reading to my darling daughter, Birdy.  She just celebrated her fifth birthday.  How timely.

And what better day to post about Betsy-Tacy than this, Maud Hart Lovelace’s birthday?



Betsy-Tacy is a sweet book introducing us to two playful, imaginative five-year-olds who become fast friends, who argue with their older sisters, who run away on the first day of school, who defend each other, who find a way to grieve the loss of Tacy’s baby sister, who play and daydream and float away on a pink feather.

As a young child (and still as an adult), I devoured the Betsy-Tacy books.  I read them again and again. The first four books are simple stories of friends growing up during the turn of the century in Mankato, Minnesota, called Deep Valley in the books.   Betsy was an adventurous, imaginative, creative child, and I wanted to be just like her (even though I thought Tacy had the prettier name).  In some ways, I was: the plain brown hair, the ever-present pencil and notepad, the wishes and dreams of a young writer.

My favorites of the series are the High School books, a time when Betsy searches for her true self, becomes rather obsessed with boys  (Tony Markham – my favorite), and longs to be a grown-up.  The illustrations by Vera Neville in these books are fabulous and dreamy.  

http://betsy-tacy.blogspot.com/

Betsy taught me how to be a friend.  She taught me how to overcome embarrassment.  She taught me how to admit mistakes.  She taught me that no matter what, family was important.  She taught me how to celebrate success, no matter how small, and to move past disappointment.  

The setting, the characters, the stories of these books taught me to appreciate a time in history during which life was difficult but uncomplicated.  It’s an era to which I am still drawn.  Samantha is my favorite American Girl doll.  I love the movie Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland, which takes place during the 1904 World’s Fair.  I lived in "Deep Valley" during graduate school and quite often my daily walk took me past the familiar places in these books.  Betsy's House and Tacy's House are now owned by the Betsy-Tacy Society and are open to the public.

Besty's House
Tacy's House

Maud Hart Lovelace and her books allowed me to dream, to believe that one day I could grow up to be a writer.

Maud at age 5

Happy Birthday, Maud Hart Lovelace.  I am forever grateful.


The Bench

What was your favorite read this month?  What books inspired you to be a writer?

Comments

  1. I have never heard of this series. I have five daughters (a wide age range), so I might keep an eye out for them. I'm always looking for things they might be interested in reading--especially the younger ones.

    Thanks!

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    1. Colin, you should do a Five Daughters Book Club and have them read them together. :) If they do read them, I'd love to hear what they think!

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  2. Oh, how I love MHL's books! It was our love for the Betsy-Tacy series that drew us together as friends! I used to write on my mom's old trunk just like Betsy did... though I never found it very comfortable. :) I may have to re-read these starting NOW.

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    1. Good books for the summer, Kate, and you can think back fondly to your days on Murmuring Lake... ahem... I mean Lake Minnetonka. :) Miss you.

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  3. How lovely to be able to share books from your childhood with your daughter :)

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    1. Thank you - people think I'm strange for saving all my books from when I was a kid, but my kids never lack for something new to read!

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  4. Oh, how cool that you got to live there! I loved the first few of these books when I was little--I never finished the series, though, because I read the first bunch when I was like, five, so the other ones were way too old for me, and then by the time I was old enough I though they were too young for me. I actually just looked up the e-books the other day--once I get through some of the books I already own, I'm definitely planning to pick up the complete series and finish it off. (In that vein: are you an Anne of Green Gables fan? That series I did come back to, and I really love the later books. Reading the book where Anne lives apart from Gilbert while she's in college while I was living away from my then-boyfriend, now-husband while I was in college was so reassuring. I grew up with Anne, so I figured if she could do it, so could I!)

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    1. Oh, read them! You won't be sorry. Yes, I am a huge Anne fan as well (and Emily of New Moon). Oh Gilbert Blythe.... sigh. :) Did you love the movies, too?

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  5. Wonderful memories and lessons. And what a gift to share with your little one!

    GirlChild so adored when MHL (actress) came the OES summer library to share her period clothing, items, and stories of Betsy. We then went on to see other History Alive! Maud Hart Lovelace (Minnesota History Players) events, which is where the bookmarks came from. Yet I can't get her into the books. She is only interested in animal stories and non-fiction. Any suggestions?

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    1. Animal stories and non-fiction! That's a challenge! Have you tried those fictionalized accounts of actual events, the I Survived! Series? Toad really digs those - the Titanic, the San Francisco Earthquake, can't think of what else. Do you think she would be interested in fiction books set in present day in Minneapolis? The Julia Gillian books are fantastic.

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  6. I've never heard of these books or of the author, and now I feel like I missed out on something really good. I love that Betsy and Tacy's homes were based on real homes and that they're viewable. So cool! I love that kind of thing. :) Thanks for sharing about this. Maybe if I have a daughter I'll be able to introduce her to these books!

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    1. I hope to get down to Mankato this summer with the kids for a tour of the houses. Stay tuned! And put them on your TBR. :)

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  7. I've never read a Betsy-Tacy book. I just looked up the books and they're available on Kindle. I will check them out.

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  8. My favorite April read was definitely THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green. Thank you so much for stopping by my website and leaving your comment, on my review. You and I seem to have much in common.

    I haven't heard of Betsy-Tacy - but I love how it's tied back to reality! What a great story to share with your daughter, as well!

    And books that inspired me to be a writer? Definitely anything by Roald Dahl. His imagination was endless - and he was all the reason I ever put my thoughts, into words on paper.

    Great post, Sara!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Erin. Yes, I think we do have much in common. I loved Roald Dahl growing up, too. My favorite: Fantastic Mr. Fox. Not the most popular choice, but there was just something about that imagined world. I can't bring myself to watch the recent movie version.

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