April 26 marks the anniversary of the birth of Maud Hart Lovelace, the author best known for her series of books about Betsy and Tacy. Born and raised in Minnesota, her books continue to be published to the delight of readers of all ages.
Like the Little House On the Prairie books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the stories about two friends, Betsy and Tacy, increase in difficulty as the characters age. There are a total of 13 books in which Betsy and Tacy appear, although in four of them they only appear briefly. Lovelace wrote a total of 18 books for children and young adults and is the author of 24 books total.
Readers in northern California can find the Betsy and Tacy books at independent bookstores like Blake’s Books in McKinleyville, Copperfield’s in Petaluma and Books, Inc. in San Francisco.
Betsy and Tacy are two young girls who are living in Minnesota at the end of the 19th century. Readers meet them when they are just five-year-old neighbors and grow with them through adolescence and marriage. Two publication dates appear in the following descriptions of the books; the first date is the original publication date, followed by the most recent publication date.
“Betsy-Tacy” (1940, HarperCollins, 1993) Betsy has no one her age living on Hill Street until Tacy’s family moves in across the street. Pretty soon they are inseparable and everyone begins to think of them as one person; Betsy-Tacy.
“Betsy-Tacy and Tib” (1941, HarperCollins, 1993) When a third girl named Tib moves into Betsy and Tacy’s neighborhood, their parents think the threesome will soon be quarreling with one another. Instead, they become Three of a Kind and find even more adventures to get into.
“Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill” (1942, HarperCollins, 1993) Betsy, Tacy and Tib are almost 10 and they can’t wait! They will finally be able to go over the big hill by themselves. It’s also the year they all fall in love with the King of Spain, get to take part in the school talent show and become friends with new Americans.
“Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown” (1943, HarperCollins, 1993) Betsy, Tacy and Tib are now twelve and are allowed to go downtown by themsleves where they see a horseless carriage and attend the Opera.
“Heaven to Betsy” (1945, HarperTrophy, 1980) It’s the first year of high school and Betsy and Tacy are having the time of their lives. They are taking part in all sorts of new activities and making new friends, even boys!
“Betsy in Spite of Herself” (1946, HarperTrophy, 1980) Betsy is busier than ever; she’s Sophomore class secretary, has homework and lots of friends and she is hoping the new boy Phil Brandish will notice her. When on a trip to Milwaukee to visit Tib, she transforms herself into Betsye – a girl she is sure Phil will notice.
“Betsy Was a Junior” (1947, HarperTrophy, 1995) Betsy thought this would be her best school year ever. Tib has moved back to town and Betsy has started the first ever sorority at school. But then the Crowd starts getting in trouble and Betsy is prevented from entering the annual Essay Contest. Maybe this will be the worst year ever!
“Betsy and Joe” (1948, Harper, 2009) It’s senior year and Betsy and Joe are finally getting together. But Betsy’s friend Tony Markham starts spending a lot of time at the Ray household and it seems he has romantic plans that involve him and Betsy.
“Carney’s House Party” (1949, Harper, 2010) Carney is home from Vassar and plans on having a house party that last’s all month long. She intends on introducing the old Crowd to her new friend Isobel and restarting her romance with her high school sweetheart.
“Emily of Deep Valley” (1950, Harper, 2010) Emily has lots of friends in Deep Valley, but after graduation – unlike the rest of the Crowd – she can’t go off to college. She is an orphan and her aging grandfather needs her to look after him. But before long Emily has met a handsome teacher and things don’t look so bleak after all.
“Betsy and the Great World” (1952, HarperTrophy, 1996) Betsy is 21 and heading off to Europe all alone for a solo tour. She meets atends important waltzes, shops in exotic markets and eats new and unusual foods. Everything would be perfect if she could forget about ex-boyfriend Joe.
“Winona’s Pony Cart” (1953, HarperCollins, 2000) Winona is an eight-year-old neighbor to teens Betsy, Tacy and Tib. She keeps telling them she is getting a pony for her birthday, but did her father really mean it when her told her no pony?
“Betsy’s Wedding” (1955, HarperTrophy, 1996) When Betsy returns from her tour of Europe,who should be waiting at the docks for her but her old flame Joe? Before Betsy can even say a word, Joe asks her to marry him. If she thought Europe was a whirlwind, Betsy is even more surprised by the work of being married.
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